Senate Passes Bill To Establish Task Force To Improve Special Education

TRENTON — The full state Senate approved bipartisan legislation on Thursday sponsored by state senators Jennifer Beck and M. Teresa Ruiz that would form a task force to reduce waste and improve service delivery in special education.

“There are 215, 000 special education students in the state of New Jersey,” said Beck (R- Monmouth). “We spend $11, 000 more per pupil to educate a special needs student than we do for a non-special needs student, which adds up to millions of dollars for school districts and taxpayers. Despite this enormous expenditure of money, there is substantial evidence that more needs to be done to improve educational outcomes for this student population.”

“We need to make certain that we are delivering the best possible educational services and programs to students enrolled in special education classes,” said Assemblyman David Rible (R-Monmouth/Ocean). “This task force is needed to examine a myriad of issues from cost-effective strategies regarding student placement to appropriate oversight to make sure the needs of these students are being met.”

The task force would be headed by the Commissioner of Education and consist of 13 other members appointed by the Governor. The members of the panel will include teachers, school administrators, parents of special education students, and representatives of non-profit organizations advocating for those with special needs.

A report would be issued by the group within 180 days of its establishment that examines the funding, delivery, and effectiveness of the state’s public special education system.

“Every dollar wasted, whether by an ineffective program or through outright waste and abuse, is a dollar that is not serving our children,” Beck continued. “Lawmakers need to understand how to provide the best possible services to special needs students in the most efficient manner.”

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