TRENTON, NJ — Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed into law S4141, also known as Paul’s Law, which will authorize parents or guardians to request the use of an individualized health care plan for students with epilepsy or seizure disorders. Standing alongside Murphy as he signed the bill on Jan. 9 was Maplewood’s Miranda West, a senior at Columbia High School who represented New Jersey as its delegate to the Epilepsy Foundation’s Teens Speak Up! program last spring and brought the legislation to the attention of Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, who sponsored the bill in the assembly.
West testified before the assembly Education Committee before the bill went to the Senate and Assembly, where it passed both houses unanimously. West was able to push the button in both houses.
The law is named after Paul St. Pierre, a 13-year-old boy from Maple Shade who has epilepsy and advocated for the legislation.
“Every student deserves to learn and thrive in their educational environment, without worrying about their safety,” Murphy said. “Paul’s Law will ensure that the safety of children with seizure disorders is a priority in our schools. I thank Paul and his family for bringing attention to this issue that affects so many parents and children across our state.”
Under this law, parents/guardians of children with seizure disorders can work with their child’s school nurse to create an individualized health care plan. The plan will be consistent with the recommendations of the student’s health care providers and will outline a set of procedural guidelines that provide specific directions about what to do in an emergency. Additionally, boards of education will be required to ensure that all building staff are trained in the care of students with epilepsy and seizure disorders.
Primary sponsors of the legislation include state Sens. Jim Beach and Kip Bateman, and Assemblymembers Mila Jasey, Annette Quijano and John McKeon.
“It’s vitally important that New Jersey’s schools and teachers are well-equipped with the tools and knowledge to provide safe, enriching learning environments for students with epilepsy,” Jasey, Quijano and McKeon said in a joint statement. “In creating the mechanisms for schools to work with parents and guardians alongside nurses, teachers and administrators, children suffering from seizures would be guaranteed the extra support and care they need to see their full potential in the classroom realized.
“We’d like to give special thanks to Paul St. Pierre, who the bill is named for, and Miranda West, a Columbia High School student and National Epilepsy Foundation teen spokesperson, for their continued advocacy and help in ensuring New Jersey schools are safe for all students,” they concluded.