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Psych Evaluations on All Public School Students Grades 7-12

Assembly bill A970 “Students w/depression-public schools required to administer written screenings.”

This bill has been heard twice before and did not pass. The sponsor who is the chairman, Dr Herb Conaway, seems to want this bill passed urgently. His reason is the documented numerous studies that say there is high evidence of depression in school among students of both sexes, across race and ethnicity. However he never cites the actual studies or gives the public the opportunity to see said evidence to evaluate for ourselves.

A970 is scheduled for a full vote in Assembly Health Committee, Tuesday, June 23 at 1PM . The legislative committees are meeting electronically. The general public cannot yet attend in person and must go through many hoops to testify electronically.

The Center for Garden State Families urges you to call your two state Assembly Members and voice your opposition to this bill.

You can search for your two State Assembly Members and State Senator by looking up your municipality: Here

  • Privacy of the student and data can easily be violated despite claims to the contrary that safety will be ensured.
  • The potential exists for the findings to go on the individual permanent record and follow him or her their entire life.
  • There is no guarantee HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) guidelines be followed.
  • There is no guarantee that professionally qualified personnel will be administering the evaluation.
  • Parents are denied the knowledge of what the questions will be.
Assembly Health

To testify and submit testimony you must fill out a Registration Form.

The Democrat controlled legislature has made it so we cannot copy and paste the link. It can only be accessed by doing the following:

  1. Go to
  2. Scroll down to the calendar “June 2020”.
  3. Click on the June 23 2020 date in yellow.
  4. Scroll down under the Legislative Schedule to a box with the 2 committees scheduled for that day. Click on Assembly Health.
  5. Under the Assembly Health title you will see second line down in bold “Registration Form”, Click on it. Fill out the form if you wish to testify.
  6. You can email your comments and testimony by emailing [email protected]

Due to the public health emergency, the State House Annex remains closed to visitors and the public will not be allowed to attend the meeting in person. The Committee will take oral testimony on bills, by telephone and/or video, limited to three minutes.

If you are interested in registering your position with the committee, you should fill out the registration form for the committee on the website. If you wish to testify, check the box on the form ‘Do you wish to testify?’

Committee contact information will be forwarded to you. The public is encouraged to submit testimony electronically in lieu of oral testimony. If you wish to testify, check the box ‘Do you wish to testify?’ on the form. The form must be submitted by 3:00 PM on 6/22/2020. Instructions for providing testimony will be forwarded to you. Written testimony will be included in the committee record and distributed to the committee members. Written testimony should be submitted to [email protected]

A970 Requires public schools to administer written screenings for depression for students in certain grades.

Here are more concerns:

According to the proposed A970 bill young people from 7th-12th grade would be given a written test from health officials to determine if they are suffering from depression. I am totally opposed to this proposed legislation. Please consider the following:

  1. Privacy of the student and data can easily be violated despite claims to the contrary that safety will be ensured.
  2. A list of various “health officials” were listed in the bill and some have much more medical and academic training and experience than others.
  3. Who determines the validity of such written tests? Who selected and agreed that these are the most superior of all available tests?
  4. Health care is the unique and total responsibility of parents or guardians not of the state, the school or boards of education.
  5. Parents should know if their child is depressed and act appropriately using their own decision-making process with their chosen physician.
  6. Like many other issues the power of suggestion may influence how a student responds to the questions on any given day and those responses may not be consistent. An adolescent’s emotions fluctuate and some answers may be for the purpose of gaining attention.
  7. The focus of school should be on academics not healthcare.
  8. A BETTER approach to dealing with the serious problem of youth and depression would be educating parents through speakers on the topic at PTA meetings, seminars, webinars or similar formats.
  9. Assessment of depression requires establishing a relationship with a person over time by a competent professional not by administering a written test in a group setting. If administered to an individual it may be counterproductive and a sensitive student may feel singled out. As a result the “self fulfilling prophecy” principle may come into play.
  10. If bullying or similar offensive behaviors are causing depressed feelings a written test will not be the answer to the problem.
  11. Is this another unfunded or underfunded mandate in NJ which is already so much in debt? What is the anticipated cost for this bill to be implemented?
  12. How else will this information be used
  13. Will it go in their permanent records?



  1. Contact your Assembly Legislators HERE
  2. Urge more public hearings, public input.

To read the 4 page bill click below