On Jan. 17, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) issued a memo announcing changes designed to remedy the large number of special education disputes in New Jersey. The changes include:
- The NJDOE will provide the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) with additional funding to:
- Establish the position of Special Education Assignment Judge to ensure greater efficiency and effectiveness of special education due process hearings;
- Designate additional administrative law judges to preside over special education due process hearings;
- Enhance case management, scheduling and tracking; and
- Increase and enhance training and professional development programs for administrative law judges.
- The NJDOE and the OAL have developed draft Due Process Hearing Guidelines to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of hearings. The NJDOE and OAL invite stakeholder input on the proposed guidelines by using this email address.Following the review of stakeholder input and any needed revision, the guidelines will go into effect on March 2, 2020.
- The NJDOE will be promoting the use of facilitated Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings for districts, parents, and students to provide an additional opportunity for settling disputes prior to mediation. Such IEP meetings are led by trained meeting facilitators and are conducted at no cost to the district or the family.
On Jan 14, 2020, the NJDOE and the OAL issued a joint letter to the U.S. Department of Education outlining the plan described above to improve the administration of special education disputes in New Jersey.