Pass the Trash Law: Substitute Teacher Resources for New Jersey Schools

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In April, 2018, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy signed S-414/A-3381 — a bill commonly known as “Pass the Trash” — into law.

The legislation is designed to prevent school employees who are accused of sexual misconduct or child abuse in one education job from getting another.

“Ensuring our children are safe when they go to school every day is our number one priority,” Murphy said in a statement.

“Parents should have the peace of mind that their children attend school in an environment in which they can safely learn, grow, thrive and succeed.”

How it Works

“Pass the Trash” takes several steps to improve student safety in New Jersey:

  1. Before employing an individual who will work with students, all schools must conduct a thorough review of that person’s work history.
  • The review must cover information regarding child abuse and sexual misconduct allegations
  • The review must cover employers from the prior 20 years that were schools or involved direct contact with children
  1. Schools are not allowed to cover up, destroy, or expunge information about allegations or findings of suspected child abuse or misconduct.

The Impact on Schools

“Pass the Trash” is an important measure to ensure student safety in New Jersey, but it’s also forced schools to scramble to be in compliance. Meeting “Pass the Trash” requirements can be difficult and time-consuming.

Perhaps nowhere is the challenge of complying with “Pass the Trash” felt more than in substitute teacher management. Not only is substitute teacher turnover common, meaning schools might be forced to frequently refresh their substitute teacher pools, but many schools also rely heavily on outside agencies to provide subs. That creates a different, yet equally problematic, set of challenges if the agency cannot or will not meet “Pass the Trash” requirements for all of its substitute teachers.

The good news for New Jersey schools (in addition to the obvious — that students will be better protected) is that there are several options to comply with “Pass the Trash” when recruiting substitute teachers.

Getting Help with Pass the Trash

Here are a few ways New Jersey schools can meet “Pass the Trash” requirements for new substitute teachers.

  1. Work with an outside law firm

Several New Jersey law firms are assisting schools with “Pass the Trash.” This can get pricey, but may be a good option if you are looking to vet only a handful of candidates or if you have room in your budget.

  1. Bring operations in-house

Rather than outsource, some schools have taken on the responsibility of meeting “Pass the Trash” requirements internally. Some schools have hired new administrators dedicated to compliance, while others have spread the responsibility among existing staff members.

  1. Use a substitute teacher company that handles screening

Although some companies that provide substitute teachers may not have the resources to meet “Pass the Trash” requirements, the ones that do can relieve schools of a sizable burden.

For instance, Swing Education, which provides high-quality substitute teachers to New Jersey schools that need them, takes care of all “Pass the Trash” requirements for our substitute teachers (along with other needed background screens and training) — at no cost to you.  

Get in touch if you’d like more information on how we can help meet your substitute teacher needs — and relieve the stress of “Pass the Trash” compliance on your staff.

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