Millville Public Schools is one of several dozen school districts in New Jersey which have been identified for annual monitoring by the New Jersey Department of Education for failing to provide students with disabilities with placements in the least restrictive educational environment. “Least restrictive environment” is a continuum of placements in which students with disabilities receive their educational services. Possible placements in our district range from the general education classroom where students with disabilities receive educational services with their general education peers to self-contained classrooms which include only students with disabilities. Students with disabilities who need very intensive services may be placed in specialized programs or schools which are located outside of the district. The goal of the IEP team for every student with a disability is to place the student where he/she has appropriate access to learning while having as much contact as possible with general education peers. Millville Public Schools was identified for monitoring because we have disproportionately placed minority students with disabilities in restrictive educational environments. Millville Public Schools administration and staff will participate in training and technical assistance activities provided by the New Jersey Department of Education, and the district will be monitored by the New Jersey Department of Education annually through 2018 to remedy the deficiencies identified in the federal lawsuit described below.A lawsuit was initially filed in federal court, District of New Jersey, on June 27, 2007, by the Education Law Center, New Jersey Protection and Advocacy, Inc., the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network of New Jersey, and the Arc of New Jersey, on behalf of children with disabilities in New Jersey Public Schools. The lawsuit was filed against the New Jersey State Board of Education, the New Jersey Department of Education (“NJDOE”), then-Commissioner of Education, Dr. Lucille E. Davy, and the individual members of the State Board of Education seated at the time the lawsuit was filed. The complaint alleged that children with disabilities in New Jersey public schools, ages three to twenty-one, were being denied a free, appropriate, public education (“FAPE”) in the least restrictive environment (“LRE”). Plaintiffs sought an order compelling the defendants to provide a free, appropriate, public education in the least restrictive environment to all students enrolled in New Jersey public schools. In February, 2014, the parties negotiated a settlement to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities were protected and that all students would receive their education in the least restrictive environment. Those measures included:
- A needs assessment that identifies patterns that need improvement
- Training and Technical assistance
- Assistance from state inclusion facilitators to help districts that are deemed "non-compliant"
- Annual webinars for educators
- Professional development
- Annual Compliance monitoring
- Final monitoring to determine district compliance with LRE requirements
To read the full settlement agreement see below.