NJ to offer students with disabilities extra year of education post-pandemic

New Jersey

(AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Wednesday that will offer an additional year of public education and related services to students with disabilities who have experienced a learning gap due to the pandemic.

The bill will provide a temporary one-year extension of special education and related services to students with disabilities who exceed, or will exceed, the current age of eligibility for special education and related services in the 2020-2021, 2021-2022, or 2022-2023 school year following a determination by the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) team that such education and/or services are necessary

“The pandemic has been especially hard on students with disabilities who rely on school programs to ensure they have the skills and services they need to be successful following graduation,” said Gov. Murphy in a statement. “By providing an additional year for students who will otherwise age out allows to us acknowledge the unique impact of the pandemic on these students and help secure a better future for them and their families.”

The state’s department of education estimates that approximately 8,700 students across the state are expected to age out of their special education services over the course of the three applicable school years under this legislation, an estimated cost of approximately $600 million over three years. The legislation will allow the state to allocate federal American Rescue Plan funds to cover the cost of the temporary expansion of these services. 

“In New Jersey, we are committed to providing a quality education to all students, especially to those who are most vulnerable,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Commissioner of Education. “We know the global pandemic has adversely impacted our students with special needs who have an individualized education program, and this important measure will extend the academics and supports to those students who would otherwise “age out” of the school system.”

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