A bill aimed at streamlining special education programs in New Jersey’s public schools is headed to the governor’s desk, having cleared both houses of the Legislature by unanimous votes.
The bill, A1365, on Monday passed unanimously in the state Assembly. It had previously garnered an identical response in the state Senate. It is sponsored by Assemblyman Dave Rible, and it seeks to create a task force charged with improving the funding, delivery and effectiveness of special education programs and services in New Jersey’s public schools.
The bill would create the Task Force on Improving Special Education for Public School Students, comprised of 16 gubernatorial appointments and the state Education Commissioner. The 16 would include parents, teachers, administrators and advocates involved in the special education community, according to the bill.
The panel would be charged with studying issues such as the methods of classifying special needs students strategies to reduce costs of out-of-district placements and program standards to ensure programs meets students’ needs and focus on achievement.
“This is really an emotional piece of legislation for me,’’ Rible, a Wall resident, said. “I’ve spent the last four years going to schools and visiting the special education programs to see how they’re set up. And I’ve talked to hundreds of parents who feel that their kids are just kind of falling through the cracks.’’
Rible said the panel could be set up as early as April and that it would then begin its study, with recommendations on changes to follow.
“I think the money’s there,’’ Rible said. “But I don’t know that we’re getting the best services. I think with this legislation we’ll get to that.’’