In New Jersey, every child who has a disability and meets legal criteria, or who has a disability that adversely impacts his/her education, is entitled to a free and appropriate public education. This means that school districts must offer special needs children access to a full range of educational settings. These range from regular public school classrooms that offer some support services to residential schools that provide for full-time education and monitoring of a special needs child. No matter what disability your child has, our special needs education law attorneys at Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler can help.
Parents of special needs children should be fully informed of their child’s rights and responsibilities so they can take part in developing appropriate strategies for educational planning. Both federal and New Jersey law provide for specific rights and procedural protections for children with disabilities and their families. These protections include programs and support for:
• Autism spectrum disorders and Asperger’s syndrome
• Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
• Auditory processing disorder
• Behavioral disorders
• Cognitive impairment
• Developmental delays
• Emotional disturbance
• Hearing impairment
• Orthopedic impairment
• Sensory integration dysfunction
• Specific learning disabilities
• Speech and language impairment
• Traumatic brain injury
• Visual impairment
Special education is designed to address distinct problems in teaching and learning. It empowers students to overcome or compensate for disabilities that hinder learning, through individualized, intensive, and purposeful instruction that may include:
In New Jersey, children aged 3 to 21 who need special education and related services due to a disability are eligible. Special education supports those who are:
It also supports children with:
This term is an acronym for individualized education programs (or plans, depending on the school district). The IEP is a legally binding contract of services provided by a school district for students classified with a disability.
While different school districts vary the IEP in format and structure, each IEP must by law contain certain components:
Free appropriate public education, or FAPE, is the standard outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). By law, FAPE refers to special education and related services that have been provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge. These must meet the standards of the state education agency; include an appropriate preschool, elementary or secondary school education in the state involved; and be provided in conformity with the student’s IEP.
A Section 504 plan is a legally binding education plan created under the authority of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It is not an IEP; instead, a Section 504 plan creates modifications and accommodations for special needs students who are attending general education classes. The student requesting a Section 504 plan must exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
Even though a student may not qualify for special education services under IDEA, he or she may still qualify for a Section 504 plan.
Due process is a legal principle outlined in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution: [No person shall] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” In reference to special education, the deprivation of liberty takes one of two forms: A parent may disagree with the school’s procedures or decisions regarding a child’s identification, evaluation, program or educational placement, or a school may disagree with a parent’s refusal to grant consent for a child’s evaluation or classification. If such disagreement occurs, either the parent(s) or school may then proceed through several dispute resolution steps ranging from mediation to lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey or the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
For more than 40 years, Sussan, Greenwald & Wesler has helped parents of special needs children manage issues from behavioral disorders to diabetes. If you need assistance, contact us today to discuss your child’s special education needs. We would be happy to answer your questions over the phone at 609.409.3500 or see you for an initial consultation in the comfort of our office, designed to put you and your child at ease.