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Obstacles to Implementing IEPs in New Jersey

“We have a responsibility to ensure that every individual has the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, from prekindergarten to elementary and secondary, to special education, to technical and higher education and beyond.”

Jim Jeffords

U.S. Senator (Vermont)

Served 1989 – 2007

On June 28, our team had the opportunity to speak with special education teachers and administrators during a 2 hour Posternock Apell, PC sponsored dinner at Harvest Seasonal Grill in Moorestown. Our discussion centered around creating a broader middle ground and focused on obstacles experienced by educators in implementing IEPs in New Jersey.

A partial summary of comments follows:

“There are different levels of students in each special ed class and it is difficult to take the curriculum and break it down. The answer is to have the curriculum designed to meet the needs of the students.”

“In most situations, the IEP lasts 30 minutes tops and it is hard to get the parents to participate in completing reports. Some don’t even show up to the IEP.”

“Parents with an attorney or advocate feel empowered.”

“Parent groups share information about IEPs and 504 plans but don’t have the facts.”

“If parents were educated on their rights, they would ask for more.”

As we explored these common issues, roundtable participants began discussing a handbook developed by the New Jersey Department of Education – Parental Rights in Special Education (PRISE). The consensus was that while we applaud the intent of the authors, PRISE is unfortunately a cumbersome document. In an effort to help parents and others easily understand the information in the handbook, Posternock Apell, PC lawyers have volunteered to “translate” PRISE into a format that can be easily grasped by most. Word about the project is apparently already “out there” as a retired English teacher has already volunteered to help us with this ambitious endeavor.

Stay tuned.

Posternock Apell, PC’s fall lineup of community events includes a roundtable geared toward professionals who provide services and other resources in the special ed arena. If you’re interested in participating in the upcoming roundtable or otherwise becoming part of the conversation, please give Matt Litt a call at (856) 242-8151.