February 18, 2022


by: admin


Tags: Addressed, Bill, COVID, education, learning, Loss, special


Categories: Special needs education

Particular Schooling COVID Studying Loss Addressed In New NJ Invoice

NEW JERSEY — A new bill is making its way through New Jersey’s legislature which, if passed, will give families who need extra time to apply for services if their special needs children suffered learning losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The current deadline to apply for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to help special needs children who may be facing additional learning struggles following pandemic-related virtual and hybrid instruction ends in March, around the second anniversary of the pandemic’s start, according to NJ. com.

Under Senate Bill S905 and its companion Assembly Bill A1281, families would have until Sept. 1, 2023 to file for a due process hearing for an IEP, according to the legislation.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides parents, guardians or educational agencies the ability to request hearings within two years, should a disagreement come up within a public school district about the “identification, evaluation or educational placement of a child with disabilities or the provision of a free and appropriate public education,” according to the bill.

The bill would retroactively permit students’ guardians or educational agencies representing them, to make due process hearing requests for the time period between March 18, 2020 and Sept. 1, 2021, when many schools were fully virtual and some hybrid, with the new deadline Sept 1, 2023, the bill stated.

The bill also states that local educational agencies must hold IEP team meetings by Dec. 31, to “discuss the need for compensatory education and services for every student with a disability who had an IEP at any time between March 18, 2020 and Sept. 1, 2021,” the bill also said.

State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Freehold) — one of the bill sponsors — told Patch in a phone interview on Thursday that he had heard concerns from families and school districts about the looming deadline to apply, who were hoping there could be a way for an extension.

Jean Stanfield (R-Mount Holly) — another state senator who is a one of the bill’s co-sponsors — told Patch in an emailed statement on Wednesday that the legislature has remained in touch with the special needs community during the pandemic “to see how to best handle the transition process out of it.”

“Personally, I’ve taken many meetings with special needs advocates, schools and families,” Stanfield wrote. “There’s a lot of concern that those students will fall through the cracks because of all the lesson plans they missed and the difficulty of online schooling within the community.”

“COVID-19 affected a lot of people in a lot of ways,” Gopal said, noting the impact on special needs students, without a physical classroom.

An earlier version of the bill with Sen. Teresa M. Ruiz (D-Newark) the primary sponsor, had made its way through the legislature in the 2020-2021 legislative session, but had only unanimously passed in the Senate on Jan. 10. Ruiz is also a sponsor on the latest bill with Gopal.

Gopal called the bill “good public policy,” which has received bi-partisan support.

The bill passed unanimously on Monday in the Senate, 34-0. It was also received that day in the Assembly, for a second reading. Gopal said he hopes it will pass in the Assembly in March. Once passed in both the Senate and Assembly, Gov. Phil Murphy has 30 days to sign it, he said.

“It’s our job to make sure we’re not using the pandemic as an excuse to leave them [special needs students] behind and we give everyone a chance to have an appropriate IEP hearing,” Stanfield said.


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