The New Jersey Department of Education is currently monitoring whether school districts are complying with state laws regarding services missed by students with disabilities during the pandemic, despite claims from proponents that more state oversight is needed. He says he has not.
In early 2022, New Jersey passed a pandemic-related “compensatory education law.” The law requires that from March 18, 2020, she must meet with all students who received special education services between September 1, 2021 and determine whether they missed services during that time. Pandemic. The law also mandates that school districts find ways to fill gaps in missed students.
But under the law, state education departments are not required to collect data on district compliance, Kathleen Ealing, assistant commissioner of the department’s Education Services Division, said in a December letter.
Ehring’s comments came from groups of special education advocates and lawyers calling for more oversight and intervention from state leaders after some district parents said they were unaware of their rights under the new law. It was in response to a letter to the bureau.
The group’s letter details how the school district asked some parents to sign paperwork for makeup services without discussing the services their children missed during the pandemic. In other situations, the school district has asked parents to write a visitation request form on this matter. In both cases, the district’s actions violated state law.
The agency added that it will review school district compliance later this year during the state’s “joint oversight process,” a comprehensive review of federal and state special education programs and regulations.
Additionally, state education department communications director Laura Fredrick told Chalkbeat Newark in December that “a more targeted review will be conducted in 2023 to ensure compliance.” I’m here. Districts that are not compliant should adopt a corrective action plan, she said.
By law, the school district scheduled an Individualized Education Program (known as an IEP) meeting by December 31 last year for parents of students with disabilities to discuss academic disparities during the pandemic and to address learning disruptions. It was necessary to provide supplementary training services for
The school district’s deadline has passed, but Elizabeth Athos, Senior Education Equity Attorney at the Education Law Center, said: off hook.
Athos, who is also a member of the New Jersey Special Education Professionals Advocacy Group, which spearheaded a letter to the state on the issue, said parents should “continue to try to keep the school district on the table,” adding that makeup services and discuss your children’s academic progress. Pandemic.
If the school district did not schedule an IEP meeting or discuss the missed services during the pandemic, families have until September 1 to file a complaint or request a due process hearing to resolve the issue. You can also bring it into the state. Some parents who may have trouble navigating the system.
Special Education Concerns Continue Amid COVID
The lack of continued state oversight could exacerbate concerns over support for students with disabilities during the pandemic.
In April 2020, new state regulations allowed school districts to offer special education services virtually. Around the same time, however, the State Department of Education warned school districts that even if they provided virtual services to students with disabilities during the pandemic, they may still need make-up services when students return to in-person learning. I told you that there is
Despite the flexibility the district has received regarding students with disabilities, Chalkbeat Newark found that in 2020 some of these students were out of service for 10 days or more. meeting.
Last year, the state issued a corrective action plan for Newark Public Schools. This is because school districts have been found to be failing in several of their responsibilities under the Education for Persons with Disabilities Act, a major federal special education law. The state found that school districts had missed meetings with parents and students and had found deficiencies and other problems with student placement.
Problems in providing support and services to students with disabilities in Newark predate the pandemic. In 2019, state watchers ordered Newark to implement a corrective action plan after finding that the school district was failing to meet key mandates related to its education plans for students with disabilities.
Marilyn Mitchell, the district’s director of special education, and Nancy Dearing, the district’s spokesperson, did not respond to Chalkbeat’s requests for comment about Newark’s compliance with the Compensatory Education Act.
Parents can ask the state for help
In a reply to New Jersey special education officials last month, Ehring said the state will issue a memo before the Dec. 31 deadline to remind school districts of their obligations to make up special education services.
Make-up services may include additional weekly sessions or services provided beyond the regular school day, such as additional speech therapy sessions or academic instruction.
September 1, 2023 if the school district refuses the student additional support to make up for the missed service or if the parent feels that more needs to be done to address the need You can seek help from the state by requesting a due process hearing by .
Parents who were unable to attend the IEP meeting with the school district to discuss makeup services can continue to make requests with the school district or contact the county special education specialist or state special education ombudsman.
Parents can also request an investigation of their complaint by submitting a form to the state. But Athos said parents don’t need lawyers to seek help from the state.
“[Parents] In theory, the state should support the districts and let them do what they are supposed to do,” Athos added.
Jessie Gomez is a reporter for Chalkbeat Newark covering public education in the city.contact jessie firstname.lastname@example.org