Right now, it's just ethically wrong. It needs to be legally wrong.

Ingram Publishing, ThinkStock

That's the word from Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Passaic), who wants to bar public schools in New Jersey from going without accident and injury insurance coverage for their students who participate in school sports and other extracurricular activities.

Wimberly and state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) launched their legislative effort after learning the Paterson School District dropped its student accident insurance, leaving students' families with no assistance if their own insurance failed to cover all necessary medical services. The district quickly reinstated the coverage after The Record reported on the superintendent's original decision.

According to Wimberly, who also serves as Paterson's District Recreations Coordinator, no school in good conscience should "have their students suit up in their school uniforms" without the protection of medical insurance. But his measure covers more than sports.

"If you're on the debate team and fall off the stage, we want to make sure you're covered also," Wimberly said.

Sponsors of the measure agreed it's foolish for schools to attempt to save money by eliminating insurance. The move undermines and compromises student safety, they said.

"The schools have a responsibility to protect and care for their students," said Sen. Sarlo.

According to Wimberly, most school systems have historically met the responsibility of covering their students against accidents and injuries, but it's not mandatory.

Both the New Jersey School Boards Association and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association said they don't track the number of districts that carry this type of coverage.

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