Have you ever had to have a tough conversation with your school district or school over making sure the best interests of your child with special needs were being met?

Has it gone as far as the courtroom to get resolved?

A new piece of legislation is aimed at not letting things get that far, if possible.

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The legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senators Steven Oroho and Robert Singer (Monmouth/Ocean County) would create a special education unit within the Office of Administrative Law,

The Senators announced Tuesday that it has cleared the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

If enacted, the bill, S-2160, the director and chief administrative law judge of the Office of Administrative Law would have to create a unit consisting of law judges that have an expertise in special education law.

The idea is to also try and balance things out so that the number of administrative law judges in the special education unit matches the number of special education cases referred to this particular office.

Under the bill, the director and chief administrative law judge would prepare an annual report, which would include statistics on the number of special education cases referred to the special education unit and the average time they project is needed to resolve the cases.

After compiling the report, the Special Education Unit would pass on their findings to the Governor and the Legislature.

“Students with disabilities are often left in unfortunate positions due to lengthy court decisions between parents, courts and school districts,” Senate President Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland) said in a statement. “This bill would establish a panel of judges who have the understanding and experience to review and handle special education cases. Judges who are best equipped to deal with these cases will ensure that students with disabilities are able to receive the services and education they need in a timely manner.”

“There is no question New Jersey needs to do a better job addressing special education conflicts,” Senator Singer (R-Monmouth/Ocean) said in a statement. “It is unacceptable for people to have to wait so long to get answers impacting the education of a child with special needs. With regular review of the data demonstrating the effectiveness of this strategy, we will know if there are enough judges assigned to the unit, and how we can better improve the process.”

You can follow Vin Ebenau on Twitter and Instagram and email news tips to vin.ebenau@townsquaremedia.com.

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