On June 16, Governor Murphy signed A-5366/S-3434 which requires boards of education to provide special education and related services to students exceeding their age of eligibility. This law extends eligibility by requiring school boards to provide the services included in an individualized education program (IEP) to students who reach the age of 21 during the 2020-2021 school year, the 2021-2022 school year, and the 2022-2023 school year, provided that the parent of the student and the IEP team decide that the student requires additional services, including transition services.
“NJSBA originally had concerns about the funding for this measure, however the Association successfully sought amendments to provide for funding,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “We thank the Legislature and the governor for addressing our concerns.”
While the bill was originally supposed to be funded through local, state and federal dollars, the governor noted that, because of the requirements of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the law will be funded exclusively through federal dollars only. While supportive of the intent to ensure that students receive the services as described in their individual education plans, NJSBA also expressed reservations that the bill duplicates those rights under the IDEA as it already provides a mechanism for students to seek additional services when a district does not meet its obligations under the IEP.
In signing the bill, Gov. Murphy said that the new law would assist approximately 8,700 students across the state who are expected to age out of their special education services over the course of the three applicable school years with an estimated cost of approximately $600 million over those three years.
Later on June 16, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) issued a memo saying the passage of the law, “ensures that students with disabilities who did not receive the services included in their IEPs will receive additional or compensatory education if deemed necessary by the student’s IEP team.” However, the new law “does not guarantee that all students exceeding their eligibility will receive additional or compensatory services.”
NJSBA will update its members should additional guidance become available.