Legislation  requiring training for Department of Education (DOE) arbitrators to include issues related to cultural diversity and bias sponsored by Assemblywomen Shavonda Sumter and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson was approved Monday by the full Assembly, 64-2-4. The bill will now go to the Governor’s desk.

Under current law, members of the panel of arbitrators maintained by the Commissioner of Education are required to receive training on conduct unbecoming an employee, including, but not limited to, issues related to allegations of sexual assault and child abuse, to assist the arbitrator in determining matters in which conduct unbecoming an employee is the basis of the tenure charges made against the employee.

The bill would require that the training also include issues related to cultural diversity and bias. It would also provide that any arbitrator serving on the permanent panel as of the enactment of the bill would be required to complete the cultural diversity and bias training within 18 months of the date of enactment.

Sponsors Assemblywomen Sumter and Reynolds-Jackson said, “Unchecked implicit bias continues to contribute to the creation of barriers to inclusion, educational excellence, and growth for communities of color. Making sure arbitrators are given the necessary cultural awareness and sensitivity training to handle all situations will help counteract any bias our children may face throughout the process.”

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