(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Daniel R. Benson, Nancy Pinkin and Adam Taliaferro sponsored to support New Jersey students who have sustained concussions and other types of traumatic brain injury was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.
“Students with a traumatic brain injury may face unique cognitive, behavioral and emotional challenges that make it harder to learn at school,” said Jasey (D-Morris/Essex). “As such, these students must have individualized attention and supportive, knowledgeable personnel available to help them overcome these challenges and receive the quality education every student in the state deserves.”
The bill (A-1024) would direct the commissioner of the Department of Education to appoint a coordinator and regional consultants to coordinate the education of students with a traumatic brain injury. The Traumatic Brain Injury Education Coordinator would be responsible for evaluating, coordinating and developing local, county, regional and state educational programs and services for students with a traumatic brain injury.
“When a student goes back to school after incurring a traumatic brain injury, the student, as well as his or her parents, often will have concerns about returning to, and succeeding in, an academic environment,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Building a support system within the Department of Education will help the state better serve this population of students in New Jersey.”
“In addition to the trouble with memory and concentration a child may face after sustaining a traumatic brain injury, he or she may deal with ongoing physical symptoms, like headaches, and emotional issues, like confusion or frustration about his or her condition,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “School districts can play an important role in facilitating a student’s return to the classroom and helping the student navigate the road to recovery.”
“Successfully meeting the needs of students with traumatic brain injuries must be a team effort,” said Taliaferro (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “The coordinator and consultants established by this legislation will serve as guides for students, parents, school faculty and staff and all other parties who simply want the best for children in New Jersey.”
Under the legislation, the coordinator would be tasked with:
- establishing a statewide network of consultants to aid school districts in meeting the needs of students with traumatic brain injuries;
- developing a methodology for the systematic identification, assessment and intervention of students with a traumatic brain injury;
- developing an annual training plan to help school districts support students with traumatic brain injuries;
- developing a hospital-to-school transition protocol for students’ return to the classroom after a traumatic brain injury or concussion; and
- developing a mechanism to collect data on the incidence of traumatic brain injuries in children.
The aforementioned network of consultants would be made up of four regional traumatic brain injury consultants, with one for each of the northwest, northeast, central and southern regions of the state. Among other duties, each regional consultant would provide training and assistance to school districts in the region, aid school districts in developing a brain injury resource team and conduct regional outreach to identify and address issues related to children with traumatic brain injuries.
The measure was advanced by the Assembly Education Committee.