Compensatory Education Now!
School districts in the State of New Jersey have not provided their students; especially their special needs students and/or parents, with a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment, as required by New Jersey and federal law.
The time has come for new laws to be written and for our existing laws to be implemented to address what has happened and what has not happened in the world of education since March of 2020. Well-intentioned or not, the reality of our situation is that school districts in the State of New Jersey have not provided their students and/or their parents; especially their special needs students and/or parents, with a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment, as required by New Jersey and federal law.
What is Compensatory Education?
While “compensatory education” was always an available remedy to students and parents aggrieved by the actions and omissions of their local school district, “compensatory education” should now arguably be automatically provided to every student attending public school in the State of New Jersey. “…(A) school district that knows or should know that a child has an inappropriate IEP or is not receiving more than a de minimis educational benefit, must correct the situation. If (the District) fails to do so, a disabled child is entitled to compensatory education for a period equal to the period of deprivation, but excluding the time reasonably required for the school district to rectify the problem.” M.C. v. Central Region Sch. Dist., 81 F. 3d 389 (3d Cir. 1996). “The amount of compensatory education… cannot be determined as a matter of law. Rather, designing (a) remedy will require a fact-sensitive exercise of discretion by either the District Court or a hearing officer.” Reid v. DC, 401 F.3d 516 (DC Cir. 2005).
The remedy of “compensatory education” requires that the school district place the concerned student in the position they would have been had there not been a violation of that student’s right to a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment which, in the proper case, may require a school districts payment of tuition at an out of district placement and/or the continuation of educational services well past the youngsters 21st birthday.
New Statutes and Regulations to Protect our Students
Perhaps in recognition of same, there are some new statutes and regulations in New Jersey which can provide protections to those students who, without ascribing blame to anyone, did not receive the “meaningful educational benefit” from their educational program and placement as they were entitled. The New Jersey Bridge Year Pilot Program provides students in the graduating classes of 2021 and 2022 with the opportunity to offset disruptions to learning opportunities and participation in extracurricular activities that might have resulted from the closure of schools to in-person instruction. There are also new regulations designed to remediate the obvious impact the worldwide pandemic has had upon education in the state of New Jersey.
Please contact us if you are student did not receive a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment to address compensatory education, the New Jersey Bridge statute, and other remedies available to students and parents in the State of New Jersey.