The New Jersey Department of Education adopted, on an emergent basis, two temporary modifications to the Special Education chapter of the New Jersey Administrative Code until the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted.

The first revision permits each district board of education to provide a system of free, appropriate special education and related services to students with disabilities from 3 – 21 “through electronic communications, virtual, or other online platforms as appropriate and as required by a student’s individualized education program (IEP), during an extended public-health related school closure.” N.J.A.C. 6A:14-1.1(5).

The second modification provides that: “During an extended public health related school closure, related services may be provided through telemedicine and telehealth or through electronic communications, which include virtual, remote, or other online platforms, as appropriate and as required by the student’s IEP to the greatest extent possible.” N.J.A.C. 6A:14-3.9(a).

As a result, most districts are providing general education, special education, and related services via various electronic, virtual, and remote methods. School districts continue to be required, even in our new virtual word, to provide students with disabilities equal access to the same educational opportunities as their nondisabled peers. It is imperative that parents review their child’s IEP to determine what special education and related services are required by the IEP, and insist that their school districts provide those services via direct instruction during this state of emergency.


Congress recently passed the COVID-19 Relief Act (CARES Act) which, among other things, directs Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education to advise Congress if she believes any waivers of rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) are necessary within 30 days of the passage of the CARES Act. This means that the Secretary will consider whether to grant waivers on timelines for initial evaluations and annual IEP reviews, and to give districts additional time to respond to filed complaints and due process petitions. This waiver or “pause” would run from the date of school closure until 45 days after school (“in person days”) resumes. Parents, attorneys and advocates are deeply concerned about the negative impact of such waivers on students with disabilities. If granted, these waivers have the potential to irreversibly harm students who are already struggling and who may fall further behind due to the lack of services and supports for an indefinite period.

The Education Law Group at PMSD will continue to keep our clients and colleagues updated as new developments arise. Through our participation with state level advocacy groups, and with your support through calling or writing your Congressional representatives to let them know that you oppose any waivers or watering of special education rights, it remains our hope that these waivers will not be issued.

With over 25 years’ combined experience, The Education Law Group at PRICE, MEESE, SHULMAN & D’ARMINIO, P.C. is now offering virtual consultations to assist families with any and all educational needs.
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