The State Board of Education held its monthly meeting on April 1. It was the first meeting conducted remotely, and the first since the statewide closure of schools took effect in March.
Special Education Actions The State Board adopted emergency amendments to the current special education regulations specifically authorizing school districts to provide services by means of electronic communications, virtual, or other online platforms as appropriate to be used as part of a student’s individualized education program (IEP) and related services, during an extended public health-related school closure. The State Board authorized the same for approved private schools for students with disabilities.
Before the April 1 changes, regulations prohibited schools from delivering services to students with disabilities through the use of electronic communications, virtual, remote or other online platforms.
These emergency rules will expire when the current state of emergency ends. The education commissioner issued a memo to all districts about the amendments.
The State Board also approved for publication in the NJ Register a proposal for comment on the renewal with amendments of the Special Education Regulations at N.J.A.C. 6A:14. The chapter sets forth the rules for the provision of a free and appropriate public education to students with disabilities, including all substantive and procedural safeguards afforded by state and federal law. The chapter includes rules concerning the services, programs, and instruction, including educational and related services, provided to students with disabilities. The chapter is scheduled to expire on June 26, 2020. The changes include amendments that will clarify that not all homeless students are evaluated and that only homeless students determined to be eligible are provided special education and related services. The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) is also proposing deleting language which requires each district board of education to have policies, procedures, and programs that ensure all personnel serving students with disabilities are highly qualified. The “highly qualified” language was required as a result of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). When the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced NCLB, ESSA deleted the “highly qualified” requirement. To view the entire proposal with amendments, click here: https://nj.gov/education/sboe/meetings/agenda/2020/April/public/5c%20Item%20C%20Special%20Education.pdf. To comment on the proposal, click here: mailto:email@example.com
Other Actions The State Board approved a resolution to adopt the NJDOE’s plan for career and technical education (Perkins V). The plan is required by federal law. The department conducted extensive stakeholder engagement and worked with multiple state agencies to develop a state plan that will lay the foundation for the next generation of career education and talent development at the secondary and postsecondary levels in New Jersey public institutions. The state plan will govern policy direction, guide new initiatives, and drive investment strategies for both federal programs and state projects. The plan also will serve as the cornerstone for programmatic investments and capacity-building efforts that will enhance service delivery at State and local levels. The contents of the plan may be found here.
- Resolution in Honor of School Library Month—The State Board passed a resolution recognizing the importance of school libraries and school media specialists. The State Board noted that school libraries contribute to developing a culture of innovation and creativity for students by delivering personalized learning experiences for students through the use of collaborative work spaces and an environment that allows for reading and learning, investigation and research, and the lifelong pursuit of knowledge. The State Board recognized that school libraries provide materials that reflect diversity of ideas and beliefs of religious, social, political, historical and ethnic groups and their contributions to the American and world heritage and culture.
- Resolution in Honor of Better Speech and Hearing Month– The State Board of Education passed a resolution recognizing May 2020 as Better Hearing and Speech Month. The board noted that this is a time to raise awareness about communication disorders and to encourage children and families to receive appropriate screenings and evaluations. It is also a time to acknowledge the hard work of audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists and the contributions they make that remarkably affect the lives of students in New Jersey.