Many parents in New Jersey worry that asking for special help for children with disabilities means pulling those children out of regular school and separating them from friends and classmates. However, the vast majority of students in New Jersey receiving special education benefits still spend a substantial portion of the typical school week in a general education classroom.
This is because the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) directs educational institutions to include children with disabilities in regular school activities to the greatest extent possible while still adequately addressing their special needs.
According to 2012 statistics provided by the New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Special Education, nearly half of special needs children over the age of six spent more than 80 percent of the typical school week in a general education classroom. This included the following:
• 24 percent of children on the autism spectrum
• 38.5 percent of children with blindness or deafness
• 30.8 percent of children with emotional disturbance
• 50.8 percent of children with hearing disability not amounting to total deafness
• 50.5 percent of children with classified learning disabilities
• 68.3 percent of children with speech and language impairments
• 31.7 percent of children with traumatic brain injuries
• 60.2 percent of children with visual impairments
Almost three out of every four children with disabilities spend at least 40 percent of the school week in a general education classroom. In fact, fewer than eight percent of special needs students are fully separated from the general student population.
If you suspect your child may have a disability but are reluctant to request an evaluation, you should keep these statistics in mind. Parents have many opportunities to oversee the individual education plan. Even when parents do not receive the cooperation they had hoped for from teachers and school administrators, they can always count on a New Jersey special education lawyer to come to their aid.