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Gopal, Ruiz Applaud State Board Vote to Retain Critical Regulations for Schools that Serve Children with Severe Disabilities

Oakland Tech

Trenton – Senate Education Committee Chair Vin Gopal and Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz praised the State Board of Education’s vote to accept the recommendation of the New Jersey Department of Education to readopt rules — without substantive changes — that pertain to schools which serve students with severe disabilities:


“These schools have for years performed an invaluable task in our state by providing quality services and education for our most disadvantaged and vulnerable students,” said Senator Gopal. “I welcome the board’s responsible decision to slow this process on any significant changes regarding these schools and the procedures they follow until a more robust discussion and open conversation can be had concerning these issues.”


“The decision by the New Jersey Department of Education to rescind the proposed changes to Subchapter 18 is a testament to its commitment to listen to the concerns of advocates and stakeholders,” said Senator Ruiz. “I applaud Interim Commissioner Kevin Dehmer and the State Board of Education for their swift action in preserving the critical regulations that guide schools serving children with severe disabilities. The collaborative efforts of all involved have truly made a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable students.”


The decision to pull back on more than 100 changes that had been recommended under the previous Education Commissioner came after concerns were voiced across the Education community, and after a letter from Senator Gopal and Senator Ruiz to Commissioner Dehmer, which warned that if the amendments were adopted they would “reduce the effective operation of the approximately 150 state-approved special education schools serving New Jersey’s most vulnerable disabled public-school students.”


“ASAH is incredibly grateful to Senate Majority Leader Ruiz, Assembly Majority Leader Greenwald, and Senate Education Chairman Gopal for their significant encouragement on this critical issue,” said ASAH Executive Director John Mulholland. “Throughout this process, their commitment to supporting students with complex needs was repeatedly and sincerely demonstrated. They are true champions of those with special needs and value the collaborative partnerships that ASAH schools have with school districts that serve as a vital safety net in New Jersey’s special education system.”


“We must continue to work together to meet the educational needs of all New Jersey children, in keeping with our constitutional mandate to provide a free and thorough education for our students,” added Senator Gopal. “If any significant changes need to be made concerning these schools and their programs, they should only come after further engaged conversation. The original amendments offered by the State Department could have caused harmful and lasting impacts on these students.”