New Jersey's 7th Legislative District

Senator Diane Allen

Senator Diane Allen

Senate Passes Allen Bill Providing Web Access to All Special Education Court Decisions

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Legislation sponsored by Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington) requiring the NJ Department of Education to maintain an online database detailing legal decisions concerning special education cases in New Jersey has passed the New Jersey Senate.

Sen. Diane Allen’s bill requires the NJDOE to maintain an online database detailing legal decisions concerning all special education cases in New Jersey. (©iStock)

“Current law ties the hands of advocates who are working tirelessly to secure resources for the more than 230,000 children enrolled in special education programs statewide,” Senator Allen opined. “Providing web access to legal decisions on all special education court cases, including those that are settled, is the best way to empower parents and school officials to fight for every child’s right to learn and thrive in the least restrictive environment possible.”

Under current law, the NJDOE is only required to maintain an electronic database of adjudicated special education cases. The agency is not currently required to provide a list of special education cases that are settled.

Senator Allen’s bill, S-1451, which she co-primed with Senator Teresa Ruiz, chair of the Senate Education Committee, requires the Department of Education to create an electronic database of legal decisions concerning special education in New Jersey, so that it can be easily accessed by parents, school districts, child study team members, or other interested members of the public who wish to obtain information on legal decisions regarding New Jersey special education matters.

“Denying access to information on settled cases has the potential to disproportionately impact parents who may not have the financial resources to employ a law firm or professional advocate,” Senator Allen added. “By arming all parents with information on previously settled cases, we can help more parents make informed decisions and work with the courts to secure access to the best learning environment for their child.”

Under the bill, the NJ DOE could meet this requirement by providing the database directly on its website, or by working with an outside entity to maintain an online database of this information. The database must contain a full-text copy of each legal decision rendered by the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law (OAL) in a special education due process hearing, and any subsequent decisions on the matter in the case of an appeal.

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