Increasing the dialogue among stakeholders in New Jersey’s special education system

New Jersey Rules for Independent Evaluations Violate Federal Law, Must Be Changed

“If a parent seeks an independent evaluation in an area not assessed as part of the initial evaluation or a reevaluation, the school district shall first have the opportunity to conduct the requested evaluation.”

This spring, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) notified New Jersey education officials that the state’s rules regarding independent evaluations for students with disabilities (N.J.A.C 6A:14-2.5(c)(1)) violate IDEA (34 CFR§300.5020) and must be changed immediately.

In response to an inquiry from an advocate, OSEP reviewed New Jersey’s rules and found that they limit a parent’s rights to an independent evaluation by giving local districts the opportunity to conduct an assessment in an area not covered by the initial evaluation or reevaluation before the parents are granted the independent evaluation. In order to be eligible for federal funding, New Jersey must eliminate N.J.A.C. 6A: 14-2.5(c)(1) which says, “If a parent seeks an independent evaluation in an area not assessed as part of the initial evaluation or a reevaluation, the school district shall first have the opportunity to conduct the requested evaluation.”

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