By: Kaitlyn Kudriavetz, Follow South Jersey Child Welfare Intern
TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation last Wednesday that offers an extra year of public education and services to students with disabilities. The legislation provides a one-year extension of special education to those who do or will exceed the current age of eligibility.
According to the state’s Department of Education, approximately 8,700 students in New Jersey are expected to age out of their special education services over the course of the three applicable school years — 2020-2021, 2021-2022, and 2022-2023 — that were signed into this legislation.
“In New Jersey, we are committed to providing a quality education to all students, especially to those who are most vulnerable,” Acting Commissioner of Education Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan said in a statement. “We know the global pandemic has adversely impacted our students with special needs who have an individualized education program, and this important measure will extend the academics and supports to those students who would otherwise “age out” of the school system.”
This extension of these services, which are estimated to total about $600 million over the course of three years, will be funded by federal American Rescue Plan funds.
“The pandemic has been especially hard on students with disabilities who rely on school programs to ensure they have the skills and services they need to be successful following graduation,” Gov. Murphy said in a release. “By providing an additional year for students who will otherwise age out allows to us [to] acknowledge the unique impact of the pandemic on these students and help secure a better future for them and their families.”
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.