Help Support ELC

ELC relies on the generous contributions of individuals, corporations and foundations to support our work.

donate now

Join Our Network

Name

Org.

Email

Anti-spam

STATE FINDS LACK OF SPECIAL EDUCATION STAFF IN ANOTHER PATERSON SCHOOL

Orders District to Provide Special Education Services to 39 Elementary School Students

Newark NJ – August 31, 2011

As a result of a complaint filed by Education Law Center (ELC) on June 24, 2011, the NJ Department of Education (NJDOE) has directed the Paterson school district to provide additional special education instruction to 39 students in School Number 10. In its investigative findings and report, the NJDOE found that for months these students were deprived of required and needed instruction due to Paterson's insufficient staffing in School 10.

This is the third finding by the NJDOE that Paterson’s inadequate staffing for the 2010-2011 school year led to the denial of special education and related services to students with disabilities. Paterson had been under a NJDOE-imposed hiring and spending freeze for much of the school year, preventing the district from employing sufficient staff to provide required special education services. Paterson is one of only three NJ districts operated directly by the State, through Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf.

“With each new report uncovering more students who were illegally denied special education and related services, the devastating effect of the State budget freeze becomes clearer,” said Lauren S. Michaels, ELC attorney and Greenberg Traurig Equal Justice Works Fellow. “Hundreds of children in preschools and elementary schools in Paterson lost valuable educational opportunities due to the actions of the NJDOE and the school district. What's even more troubling is that Paterson is a state-run district.”

Among NJDOE's findings are that Paterson illegally failed to provide mandatory special education, or “resource,” instruction to 39 students at School 10 whose Individual Education Programs (IEPs) included such services. According to the report, Paterson was also unable to provide documentation of speech-language therapy logs from School 10 for the 2010-2011 school year, and failed to follow state- and federally-mandated procedures for developing and implementing a student’s IEP.

The Corrective Action Plan (CAP) issued by NJDOE requires Paterson to notify the parents of children whose rights were violated and propose a compensatory services schedule. The plan also requires the school district to review its procedures for developing IEPs, conduct a staff in-service session to review the revised procedures, and verify that the new procedures are being followed. There are already CAPs in place requiring Paterson to provide compensatory education to preschoolers and other students at School 2.

 “The children of Paterson deserve the special education and related services they need and to which they are entitled under state and federal law,” said Michaels. “They will never get back what they were denied last year. ELC continues to closely monitor the situation to ensure that NJDOE and Paterson fully comply with the law and deliver the required services in the 2011-12 school year.”

 

Related Stories:

ELC CONTINUES PUSH FOR ADEQUATE SPECIAL EDUCATION STAFF AND SERVICES IN PATERSON

STATE FINDS ADDITIONAL SPECIAL EDUCATION VIOLATIONS IN PATERSON 

PATERSON PRESCHOOLERS FINALLY RECEIVE SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES, BUT PROBLEMS REMAIN 

PATERSON PRE-K CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES DEMAND SPECIAL EDUCATION SERVICES


Education Law Center Press Contact:                        
Lauren S. Michaels, Esq.
Greenberg Traurig Equal Justice Works Fellow
lmichaels@edlawcenter.org