• January 22nd, 2017
  • Posted by NJCSEFR

NJDOE Special Education Regulations Proposed for Private Schools

Comments Off on NJDOE Special Education Regulations Proposed for Private Schools

On December 30, 2016, the New Jersey Department of Education proposed new special education regulations that will affect tuition rates and accounting practices at state approved private schools for students with disabilities.

In more than 80 pages of code, the NJDOE has proposed rules that would affect areas such as pension, healthcare, travel, hiring and staff training, tuition-setting, debt, and audits, to name a few.

Among the changes of greatest concerns: a freeze on maximum salaries until 2024, low salary caps – well below those for public schools – for speech therapists, OTs, PTs and BCBA professionals; low caps on staff training, to name a few.

Members of the Coalition, including ASAH Private Special Education, The Arc of New Jersey, Autism New Jersey, and Advocates for Children of New Jersey have asked the State Board of Education to delay adoption until such time as the rules can be more fully vetted. To learn more, click here.


  • January 21st, 2017
  • Posted by NJCSEFR

Supreme Court Defining Rights for Students with Disabilities

Comments Off on Supreme Court Defining Rights for Students with Disabilities

On January 11, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court hear arguments on whether public schools owe children with disabilities “some” educational benefit — which courts have determined to mean just-above-trivial progress — or whether students legally deserve something more: a substantial, “meaningful” benefit.

The plaintiff in the case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, is a student with autism whose parents pulled him out of public school after his behavior deteriorated dramatically and he made what they said was almost no academic progress. After they placed him in a private school, he made rapid progress, and they sought reimbursement for tuition. They are entitled to that reimbursement if they can prove that the public school failed to provide a “free appropriate public education” under federal law.

The child and his parents lost their case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which is among the majority of Circuit Courts of Appeals that subscribe to the “some” benefit standard. A minority of circuit courts have set higher expectations for schools, and the Supreme Court now has a chance to set a uniform standard for the nation. This case could have a far reaching and lasting impact, and could affect special education costs and funding.


  • January 20th, 2017
  • Posted by NJCSEFR

Special Education and Autism Training to be Required as Part of Teacher Certification

Comments Off on Special Education and Autism Training to be Required as Part of Teacher Certification

The bipartisan measure (S-1474) introduced in February 2016 was passed unanimously by both the NJ Senate and NJ General Assembly last fall.

The bill would require teacher preparation programs for instructional certificate to include certain amount of instruction or clinical experience in special education and for students with disabilities endorsement to include credit hours in autism spectrum disorder.

A minimum of the equivalent of 6 semester credit hours of classroom instruction, clinical experience, including student internships, or a combination thereof, in special education would be required

For an instructional certificate with a teacher of students with disabilities endorsement, credit hours in autism spectrum disorder and comprehensive1 evidence-based instructional practices to address the educational 1strengths and1 needs of students with autism would be required.

It awaits the Governor’s signature.


  • November 22nd, 2015
  • Posted by NJCSEFR

Autism-specific Teacher Training Proposal Moves in NJ Senate

Comments Off on Autism-specific Teacher Training Proposal Moves in NJ Senate

The NJ Senate Education Committee has favorably reported A2888 with amendments for 2nd Reading. The bill provides that, in addition to any other requirements adopted by the State Board of Education for teacher preparation programs, the State board must require that the preparation program for an instructional certificate include a minimum of the equivalent of 6 semester credit hours of classroom instruction, clinical experience, including student internships, or a combination thereof, in special education. The bill also requires that the preparation program for an instructional certificate with a teacher of students with disabilities endorsement include credit hours in autism spectrum disorder and evidence-based instructional practices to address the educational needs of students with autism.

The committee amended the bill to specify that the equivalent of 6 semester credit hours of classroom instruction, clinical experience, including student internships, or a combination thereof, in special education could be used to satisfy the bill’s requirements for teacher preparation programs for instructional certificates. The amendments require that the preparation program for an instructional certificate with a teacher of students with disabilities endorsement also include evidence-based instructional practices to address the educational needs of students with autism, in addition to credit hours in autism spectrum disorder.


  • November 20th, 2015
  • Posted by NJCSEFR

RTI Initiative Moves in NJ Senate

Comments Off on RTI Initiative Moves in NJ Senate

The New Jersey Senate Education Committee has favorably reported S445, and referred it to the NJ Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The bill directs the Commissioner of Education to develop and establish an initiative to support and encourage the use of a Response to Intervention (RTI) framework by school districts to promote the achievement of all students. It also requires the Commissioner of Education to ensure that an RTI framework developed and implemented by a school district includes, at a minimum, certain elements that are commonly recognized as core components of any RTI model, and to make technical assistance and training available to assist school districts in implementing an RTI framework.


  • July 10th, 2015
  • Posted by NJCSEFR

Extraordinary Aid in NJ Shrinking

Comments Off on Extraordinary Aid in NJ Shrinking

NJDOE has notified districts applying for extraordinary aid that it would pay 58% of the eligible costs, down from 63% last year. Read a copy of the NJDOE memo. These recent aid levels represent a significant drop from FY2012, when the state paid 77%.

The state is earmarking $165 million for such aid, the same as last year, and a slight increase over the $162.8 million budgeted in 2013.

State officials point out that the aid, while relatively steady, has recently offset the costs of educating more special-needs students, resulting in a smaller share per student. This year, the money will supplement local funding for 13,200 students.

“The purpose was to stabilize budgets and see students’ needs fulfilled,” said Lynne Strickland, Executive Director of the Garden State Coalition of Schools, adding “there is reason to be concerned about the share diminishing year after year and the low point it has reached.”

Two years ago, the Christie Administration sought to modify the thresholds, raising the amount that local districts should spend on their own before becoming eligible for the additional aid.

The Task Force on Improving Special Education for Public School Students, slow to start its work after being created in 2013, considered special education funding during its first year of meetings. The task force is reported to be finishing its work, but its report has not been released, with NJDOE saying it’s still under review.


  • September 27th, 2014
  • Posted by NJCSEFR

New Federal Accountability Framework in Special Education

Comments Off on New Federal Accountability Framework in Special Education

The US Department of Education (USDOE) will assess graduation rates, test scores, and other metrics of academic performance to help determine whether states are meeting the needs of students with disabilities.

The new focus on Results Driven Accountability (RDA) marks a shift in the ways in which the USDOE monitors special education programs, moving away from its previous focus on procedural requirements and compliance and towards academic/achievement outcomes such as graduation rates and math/reading scores for students with disabilities. These benchmarks have heretofor not been stringently applied to special education students.

States that fail to meet the more stringent benchmarks for three or more years risk loss of some federal funding for special education.

Under the old system, 41 states and territories met the requirements, which focused more on meeting procedural requirements. New Jersey is one of 15 states that meets the new requirements under IDEA in 2014 (http://www2.ed.gov/fund/data/report/idea/2014-chart-1.pdf).

As part of the shift to RDA, the USDOE will fund a new $50M technical assistance center to help states leverage $11.5 billon in federal special education dollars earmarked to help students with disabilities achieve better outcomes.

View the USDOE Release here.


  • August 19th, 2014
  • Posted by NJCSEFR

Feds Clarify Medicaid Coverage of Services to Children With Autism

Comments Off on Feds Clarify Medicaid Coverage of Services to Children With Autism

CMS officials have provided federal guidance for states on Medicaid coverage of therapies for autism, indicating such treatments are covered for beneficiaries under age 21. While the guidance focuses on the provision of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, it also references additional treatments.

The Center for Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Plan) Services, a division of CMS, released the informational bulletin to clarify Medicaid coverage of services to children with autism. That bulletin was issued in response to increased interest in this topic—specifically, the provision of ABA therapy. Although the bulletin was written to address services for children with autism under the Medicaid program, it also serves to clarify services that speech-language pathologists and audiologists may provide to individuals diagnosed with other conditions.

The 5-page informational bulletin outlines four major categories of treatment that are beneficial for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and more specifically, services available to individuals with ASD through the federal Medicaid program. The categories are (1) behavioral and communication approaches, (2) dietary approaches, (3) medications, and (4) complementary and alternative medicine. ABA therapy is recognized as one treatment for children with autism, but the bulletin also identifies other treatments that are available to the ASD population and to others in need of those services.


  • June 10th, 2013
  • Posted by NJCSEFR

Bill Would Outlaw “Merit Pay Bonuses” to Superintendents for Reducing Special Education Out-of-District Placements

Comments Off on Bill Would Outlaw “Merit Pay Bonuses” to Superintendents for Reducing Special Education Out-of-District Placements

A bi-partisan measure making its way through the New Jersey Assembly would ban a growing practice that has school boards offering “merit pay” bonuses to school superintendents who reduce out of district special education placements.

According to the bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, the most important consideration for special education is what’s best for the child. “That decision should never be clouded by an administrator’s personal financial stake in the outcome,” she said.

Casagrande introduced A-3997 after districts began awarding bonuses – sometimes in excess of $25,000 – for reducing the number of special education students in out-of-district placements. The practice effectively places a bounty on the heads of children with complex disabilities, and creates a direct cash incentive for the superintendent to get involved in placement decisions, a role that he or she does not have.

Decisions about placement are, by federal law, to be individualized and based on the needs of each child. They are to be made by parents and the Child Study Team, and are supposed to be made without consideration of cost.

While it is laudable, and in fact necessary, for New Jersey school districts to increase special education options at the local level, the solution is NOT for boards of education to incentivize superintendents to regulate special education placements for their own benefit.

The federal law, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that special education funding be “placement neutral.”


  • May 22nd, 2013
  • Posted by NJCSEFR

Special Education Task Force Bill Signed By Governor Christie

Comments Off on Special Education Task Force Bill Signed By Governor Christie

Bipartisan legislation to establish a task force to improve the funding, delivery and effectiveness of special education programs and services in New Jersey was signed into law earlier this spring by Governor Christie.

The legislation was introduced in response to an Asbury Park Press series in 2010 on New Jersey’s special education system. The series, “Special Care, Unknown Costs,” questioned the cost and effectiveness of the state’s various special education programs.
The Task Force on Improving Special Education for Public School Students is charged with studying various issues including:
• Methods of classifying and education special needs students.
• Best practices for special education.
• Strategies to reduce costs associated with out-of-district placements.
• Standards to ensure programs meets students’ needs and focus on achievement.
The task force will consist of the state Education Commissioner and 16 members appointed by the Governor, included parents, teachers, administrators and advocates involved in the special education community. The task force has 180 days after it organizes to present its findings and recommendations.