NJASP

New Jersey Association of School Psychologists

Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ)

Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ)

Education Law Center (ELC)

NJ Association of Learning Consultants (NJALC)

NJ Association of School Psychologists (NJASP)

NJ Association of Speech Language Specialists (NJASLS)

NJ Education Association

NJ Special Education Practitioners

Special Education Clinic at Rutgers University School of Law - Newark

Special Education Leadership Council of NJ

Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN)

The Arc of New Jersey

This coalition is concerned that a broad range of special education stakeholders were not included on this task force.  In addition, our concerns regarding special education services in New Jersey are varied and include proposed changes to the general education code.  This is the second of potentially many reports generated to address our concerns and issues relative to individuals with disabilities.

The comments here reflect the areas of concern where unanimous consensus was reached.

Chapter 16: Programs for Student Development Services

 N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.3(a)10i(1) Long Term Suspensions

“The district board of education as a whole shall receive and consider [either] a [transcript or detailed] report on such hearing before taking final action;”

 The Department and State Board should modify this requirement.  Rather than having to prepare either a transcript or a detailed report of a formal board hearing regarding a potential long-term suspension, districts should be required simply to prepare a report.

 OPPOSE

The task force recommendation to remove the requirement for a transcript or detailed report of a board disciplinary hearing may violate state law and the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  While the power to impose a long-term suspension rests with the board of education, state law allows the board to delegate the hearing to a committee.  Without a transcript or detailed report, the board is unable to make a decision based upon the merits of the case if the hearing is delegated to a committee.  In addition, without a transcript or detailed report, families face an insurmountable obstacle when filing a petition of appeal.  Not having documented the hearing may therefore, have violated a student’s due process rights by rendering an appeal virtually impossible.  The allowance of a detailed report already provides the board of education with flexibility.  Reducing the requirement to merely a report is taking flexibility too far.

 N.J.A.C. 6A:16-9 Alternative Education

“[9.1(a) Each district board of education choosing to operate an alternative education program, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:16-1.3, shall approve the alternative education program.  (b) Any alternative education program, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:16-1.3, within a state agency, public college operated program or department-approved school shall be approved by the Commissioner of Education, …]”

 The Department and State Board should eliminate the subchapter of code prescribing additional rules regarding alternative education programs.  According to statute, alternative education programs are already subject to all of the rules to which traditional public schools must adhere, along with the requirements of the underlying statutes.  However, the additional rules promulgated in this subchapter have created another unnecessary layer of approvals and reviews.  School districts are already required under other regulations and statutes to provide for the education of all students and should be empowered to determine appropriate educational programs and supports.  This change will enable alternative education programs to provide instruction and support to their students with fewer burdensome regulations from the State.

 OPPOSE

The task force seeks to eliminate all regulations specifically addressing all alternative education programs.  The recommendation is wholly problematic as it fails to recognize that students placed in alternative programs have significant needs different from those students attending the general education programs.  Removing the additional oversight and accountability provided by these regulations particularly the IPP is shortsighted at best.
 

N.J.A.C. 6A:16-10.1(a)1 Home or Out-of-School Instruction Due to Temporary or Chronic Health Condition

“To request home instruction due to a temporary or chronic health condition, the parent shall submit a request to the school district that includes a written determination from the student’s physician documenting the projected need for confinement at the student’s residence or other treatment setting for more than 10 consecutive school days or [15] 20 cumulative school days [or more] during the school year.”

 

The Department and State Board should revise this regulation regarding the eligibility of students for home or out-of-school instruction.  The proposed revision is in response to feedback from superintendents.  Districts should be required to provide additional instruction only if the student’s physician documents that the student would miss more than 10 consecutive or more than 20 cumulative school days.  In all other cases, districts should have the flexibility to pursue other means of ensuring that students with health conditions receive proper instruction.  This would ensure that students continue to receive a thorough and efficient education while streamlining a considerable burden on districts.

 

OPPOSE

Extending the amount of time before a student qualifies for home or out-of-school services is most disturbing.  Someone with a health condition should qualify for home or out-of-school services at least as quickly as students who are suspended or expelled. 

 

N.J.A.C. 6A:16-10.2(d)1 Home or Out-of-School Instruction for a General Education Student for Reasons other than a Temporary or Chronic Health Condition

“[The school district shall develop an Individualized Program Plan (IPP) for delivery of instruction and maintain a record of delivery of instructional services and student progress.  i. For a student expected to be on home instruction for 30 calendar days or more, the IPP shall be developed within 30 calendar days after placement. … ii. The IPP shall be based upon consultation with the student’s parent and a multidisciplinary team of professionals with appropriate instructional and educational services credentials to assess the educational and behavioral goals; iii.  The IPP shall incorporate any prior findings and actions recommended through the school building system of Intervention and Referral Services, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:16-8, Intervention and Referral Services; iv.  The IPP shall recommend placement in an appropriate educational program, including supports for transition back to the general education setting; and v. The school district shall review the student’s progress, consult with the student’s parent and revise the IPP no less than every 60 calendar days.”

 The Department and State Board should eliminate the requirement that school districts create Individualized Program Plans (IPPs) for students who receive home or out-of-school instruction for discipline or other non-health related reasons.  Districts should have the flexibility to decide how home instruction is provided and monitored, subject to the requirements of statute and of any applicable special education Individual Education Program (IEP).  This change would eliminate a prescriptive burden on districts.

OPPOSE

Removing the requirement of an Individualized Program Plan (IPP) removes all the accountability that is currently built into the system for students who receive home or out-of-school instruction for discipline or other non-health related reasons.  Moreover, an IPP is in the best interests of districts as it provides the necessary guidance for teachers to appropriately serve the students.  At the very least a student should have a plan that documents the delivery of instruction and provides teachers with necessary guidance.

Chapter 32: School District Operations

 N.J.A.C. 6A:32-7.8(b)-(e) Retention and Disposal of Student Records

“(b) Student records of currently enrolled students, other than [that] records described in [(e)] (d) below, may be disposed of after the information is no longer necessary to provide educational services to a student.  [Such disposition shall be accomplished only after written parental or adult student notification and written parental or adult student permission has been granted or after reasonable attempts of such notification and reasonable attempts to secure parental or adult student permission have been unsuccessful.]  (c) Upon graduation or permanent departure of a student from the school district [:], information in student records, other than that described in (d) below, may be disposed of, but only in accordance with the Destruction of Public Records Law, N.J.S.A. 47:3-15 et seq.  [1. The parent or adult student shall be notified in writing that a copy of the entire student record will be provided to them upon request.  2. Information in student records, other than that described in (e) below, may be disposed of, but only in accordance with the Destruction of Public Records Law, N.J.S.A. 47:3-15 et seq.  Such disposition shall be accomplished only after written parental or adult student notification and written parental or adult student permission has been granted, or after reasonable attempts at such notification and reasonable attempts to secure parental or adult student permission have been unsuccessful and prior written authorization has been obtained from the New Jersey State Records Committee in the New Jersey Department of State.  (d) No additions shall be made to the record after graduation or permanent departure without prior written consent of the parent of adult student.]  [(e)] (d) The New Jersey public school district shall keep for 100 years a mandated records of a student’s name, date of birth, name of parents, gender, citizenship, [address, telephone number,] health history and immunization, standardized assessment [and test answer sheet (protocol)]results, grades, attendance, classes attended, grade level completed, year completed[,]and years of attendance.”

 The Department and State Board should revise subsections (b) and (c), eliminating the costly requirement that districts obtain written permission before altering or destroying records no longer useful to the education process.  Subsection (e) should also be amended, eliminating the requirement to retain certain paper records or other information such as telephone numbers that are unlikely to be useful after a student’s graduation.

 OPPOSE

The task force seeks to eliminate parental/adult student consent - and even notice - prior to destroying educational records because they claim these are costly requirements.   However, educational records are often needed to support applications for other state and federal services.  The parent or adult student should be allowed to request a copy of any necessary records prior to its destruction and will not be able to do so if they do not even have notice that the documents will be destroyed.  At the very least, notice of the pending destruction of such critical documents must be provided.

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