Recognizing that remote and hybrid learning created challenges for many students during the pandemic crisis — with New Jersey’s 238,000 special needs students left particularly vulnerable — Governor Murphy signed a bill into law in March that mandates the right to compensatory education to cover the period from March 18, 2020, through September 1, 2021. Per this new law, parents must file for Due Process for compensatory education for this time period prior to September 1, 2023.
The law extends the time for a parent, or guardian, to request a due process hearing regarding the education of a child with disabilities during a COVID-19 school closure or during periods of virtual, remote, or hybrid remote/in-person instruction. Under the “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” (IDEA), a parent may request a Due Process hearing when there is a disagreement regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a child with disabilities. The School District must provide a free and appropriate public education. If parents believe a school district is not meeting their child’s right to a free and appropriate public education, they may file a Due process petition seeking an appropriate placement and program.
Under the new law, a School District is required, not later than December 31, 2022, or earlier if requested by a parent or guardian, to hold an IEP team meeting to evaluate 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 September 1, 2021. If a parent or guardian disagrees with the IEP team findings, a due process hearing may be requested through September 1, 2023, to challenge the determinations of how much compensatory education a student is entitled to.
You can read the full language of the new law here: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/Bills/2022/S1000/905_I1.PDF
Each year a student is eligible for services, an IEP meeting must occur. This new law extends the statute of limitations so that “make-up” — or what is known as “compensatory education” — can be awarded for services that were lost during the pandemic. Apart from this new legislation, if parents believe a school district is not meeting their child’s right to a free and appropriate public education, they may enroll the child in a private school and file an administrative due process proceeding seeking full reimbursement of tuition expenses.
Pandemic-related special education initially received legislative attention in June 2021, when Governor Murphy signed a bill permitting an additional year of school for students with specific special needs. The law enables the 8,700 students who would have aged out of the state’s public education system after turning 21 to obtain an additional year of educational instruction. A second bill signed by the governor in June last year granted parents the right to request that their child repeat a grade during the 2021-2022 school year.
Our office is helping parents navigate the compensatory education application filing process. We will advocate for your child to ensure they receive the compensatory education to which they are entitled. Please consider contacting our office for an appointment to discuss compensatory education or any other special education issues you may have.