Senate Bill 600 passed the New Jersey General Assembly 74-0. The bill, sponsored by Senator Jennifer Beck, Senator Teresa Ruiz, Assemblyman David Rible and Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini, establishes the Task Force on Improving Special Education for Public School Students for the purpose of studying various issues related to improving the funding, delivery, and effectiveness of special education programs and services for public school students.
“The unanimous support of this bill in the Assembly sends an important message to the special education community inNew Jersey,” explained Beck (R-Monmouth). “The Asbury Park Press recently did an eight-month investigation of the special education system here inNew Jerseyand found a $3 billion a year bureaucracy rife with cost overruns and little oversight. In 2008-2009, school districts sent more than $580 million to privately run, but publicly funded special education schools. ”
The task force will consist of 17 members including the Commissioner of Education and 16 members appointed by the Governor. Under the bill, the task force will examine issues including the evaluation of practices for classifying and educating students who are eligible for special education and the development of best practices for education professionals working with students who require special education; strategies to reduce the costs associated with the placement of eligible students
“The Asbury Park Press uncovered a number of shocking stories that make it clear that this task force is not only be helpful to the students, but it is essential to taxpayers,” told Beck. “InTrentonthere was actually a criminal probe into the lax oversight of money relating to their special education system. Some state sanctioned, private special education schools pay their top employees more than the governor, some as much at over $200K annually. This type of fiscal mismanagement cannot be tolerated, especially in a system that should be focused on the needs of our students.”
“We had an encouraging level of bi-partisan support for this legislation that will take an in depth look at the effectiveness and cost of our special education system and methods,” said Beck. “”This task force will help us fulfill our obligation to ensure that students with special needs are getting the quality education they deserve.”
S-600 advances to the Governor Christie’s desk for consideration.