On April 30, the NJ Department of Education issued a memo clarifying that school districts may not require parents and guardians of special education students to waive certain legal rights or give written consent for services as a condition for receipt of remote or virtual special education or special education-related services.

Such practices violate the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and New Jersey regulation.

Neither do the state’s special education regulations require or allow for the waiver of present or future claims, including claims to compensatory services, for students with disabilities to receive the services to which they are entitled under their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Requiring the execution of a waiver or release of present or future claims as a condition to implement a student’s IEP is prohibited.

There is no requirement in the New Jersey special education regulations, including State Board of Education’s April 1 rule modification allowing provision of services remotely, that school districts obtain written parental consent prior to the delivery of special education and related services through remote, virtual or online platforms. It is important to note that while parental consent is required prior to the implementation of the student’s initial IEP, parental consent is not required prior to the delivery of special education and related services included in a subsequent IEP.

The NJDOE recommends that questions or concerns about its directive be directed to the Special Education Ombudsman or the special education specialists in the county offices.

For further questions, please contact the NJSBA Legal and Labor Relations Department at 609-278-5254 or your board attorney.