Advocacy Alert: State Board Adopts Special Ed Funding Code for July 1 Implementation

The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) regulates private special education schools like the one your son or daughter attends. These regulations affect everything from services and staff, to facility and finance.

UPDATE: JUNE 12, 2017

Parents of students with autism and other severe disabilities, non-profit groups and school leaders are expressing shock and disappointment that the New Jersey State Board of Education voted to adopt new rules that cut back on funding for services to children and teens in private special education schools. Even worse, the rules are expected to take effect on July 1, seventeen days after they have been adopted.

NEWS RELEASE: PARENTS AND ADVOCATES DECRY NEW RULES THAT CURTAIL SPECIAL EDUCATION FUNDING

The State Board of Education has adopted more than 80 pages of new accounting rules that will devastate private schools, and make it very hard for them to operate. Some schools may be forced to close.

The rules affect areas such as pension, healthcare, travel, hiring and staff training, tuition-setting, debt, and audits, to name a few. These rules will DIRECTLY affect services to children.

HERE’S THE BOTTOM LINE:

We are urging leaders in Trenton to delay the adoption of these new rules.

HERE ARE SOME STEPS YOU CAN TAKE:

1) Schedule meetings with your legislators as soon as possible, BEFORE JUNE 30.
Advocacy groups in New Jersey are urging parents and friends of private special education schools to meet with lawmakers between now and June 30. We know it is a busy time, but this is important.

  • Call your lawmaker and ask for a meeting BEFORE June 30. Click here to use a map to find your NJ lawmaker, or call ASAH if you need help (609) 890-1400.
  • Watch the video above. It can be viewed on this page, or downloaded directly at this link, http://www.asah.org/media/Call_to_action.mp4. Bring your phone, tablet or laptop to the meeting, so you can use the video DURING THE MEETING to help lawmakers understand what is at stake. If you do not have a device, you can ask to view it with your lawmaker on his/her computer at the office.
  • Tell your OWN story about private special education schools and why they matter for YOUR child. Bring a picture of your child.
  • Ask your lawmaker to support a budget resolution to delay code implementation for one year to give schools time to make necessary adjustments to their programs and services.

We are ONLY ASKING for a delay. WHAT IS THE RUSH? ONE YEAR WILL HELP PREVENT DISRUPTION.

2) Write a Letter to your Lawmaker and the Governor

Parents and families at the NJ State Board of Education meeting February 1, 2017

ASAH has opposed these rules and has asked leaders in Trenton to delay action, but WE ARE NOT ALONE. Look at all the organizations that asked the State Board to delay:

  • ASAH
  • Advocates for Children of NJ (ACNJ)
  • Autism New Jersey
  • The Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities
  • The Arc of New Jersey
  • NJ Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies
  • New Jersey Coalition for Special Education Funding Reform
  • The United Way of Central Jersey

CLICK HERE FOR ‘GETTING TO THE TRUTH’
Our Fact Sheet developed following the February 1 State Board meeting.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR UPDATED TALKING POINTS on the proposed code revision

MEDIA COVERAGE

NJTV aired the following segment on concerns over the proposed code changes.

NJ Spotlight logo
Public Hearings on Charters and Private Schools
NJ Spotlight, John Mooney, January 4, 2017.

NJ Spotlight logo
Special Education Schools Alarmed at DOE Proposals
NJ Spotlight: re NJTV coverage, John Mooney, January 4, 2017.

Brick ShoreBeat logo
A Call to Action
Brick Shorebeat, Kimberlee Rutan McCafferty, January 17, 2017


UPDATE: JUNE 5, 2017

The NJBOE is poised to approve the fiscal code proposed in November, virtually unchanged from their original proposal. Nearly 900 parents, advocates and organizations submitted comments and testimony, the vast majority in opposition to the code, and expressing grave concern in more than 170 different areas.

In spite of these comments, the NJDOE made a single change in the area of Food Services:
Excess expenses for food services are STILL non-allowable (cannot be part of tuition) except for where they are solely attributable to substitutions to meals when the disability restricts the child’s diet.

CLICK HERE to read the comments and the Department’s responses.

UPDATE: MAY 3, 2017

On May 3, advocates testified before the State Board of Education, once again asking them to STOP, or at least DELAY the implementation of these damaging regulations. The rules are published in the New Jersey Register. Click here to read the most recent version, as well as comments of nearly 200 educators, parents and organizations that oppose the changes. There is still a lot of confusion about what these rules mean and how they will be implemented.

These rules are likely to be adopted on June 7th, for implementation on July 1, 2017. This gives private schools only 14 business days to prepare to implement sweeping fiscal and program changes. We cannot overstate how disruptive this will be to special education schools, the vast majority of which also provide services all summer. NJ needs a more planful approach, and more time for implementation.

While the official comment period is over, it is not too late to have your voice heard.

UPDATE: APRIL 5, 2017

Today, the State Board of Education took testimony on the proposed code changes that will affect private special education services. Each one of the 18 people who testified on the code spoke in opposition, and urged that the state board refuse to adopt it. There were no supporters of the code.

ASAH leadership and members of several schools were there, along with Autism New Jersey and The New Jersey Coalition for Special Education Funding Reform. By far, the most compelling testimony came from the 8 family members who spoke. Many fighting emotions as they spoke, mothers, fathers and even an older brother described how private special education has been life-altering. They described the well trained, credentialed staff and the need for a full range of intensive related services. They implored the Board of Education to reject the proposal.

Members of the Board appeared to be moved by the testimony. All expressed deep concern for the issues raised and agreed to look further into the issues.

Watch this website for more news.

CLICK HERE to read the testimony of Gerry Thiers on behalf of ASAH given at the April 5th Board Meeting.


UPDATE: FEBRUARY 1, 2017

More than 30 families and their children with severe disabilities squeezed into the public meeting of the New Jersey State Board of Education on Wednesday, February 1. Joined by nearly 80 other special education advocates and leaders from state organizations, they jammed the lobby of the New Jersey Department of Education in opposition to new state rules that would put special education services for the state’s most vulnerable students at risk.

RESOURCES:


ABOUT PRIVATE SPECIAL EDUCATION SCHOOLS IN NEW JERSEY

  • Private schools serve more than 11,000 children ages 3-21 who have complex and severe disabilities including autism, aspergers, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, learning disabilities, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety, medical and chromosomal conditions, and more.
  • Federal and state laws require that all students with disabilities receive an appropriate special education at no cost to parents.
  • Public school districts place students with disabilities in private schools when the in-district programs cannot meet a child’s needs.
  • Public schools pay tuition; rates are set annually by the NJDOE.
  • Private schools are heavily regulated by the NJDOE.
  • Many private schools in New Jersey are tax-exempt charitable organizations established for the benefit of the students they serve; others are family-owned and operated businesses.

Questions? Need more information?
Call ASAH 609-890-1400
www.asah.org