Student Disability Advisor — New Jersey

Students living with disabilities face many challenges in obtaining an education of their choice. Yet, they are not alone. A study shows that in the U.S., one in five students enrolled in higher education has a disability. Numerous state and federal laws require schools to provide reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities to protect their right to equal education. Although these students work hard to obtain a diploma or degree, New Jersey schools sometimes fail in their legal obligations administered by the government. If your K-12, institution of higher education, or other educational program rejects your disability or fails to grant reasonable accommodations, contact national education attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento. He and the Lento Law Firm's Student Defense Team stand ready to engage in challenges to New Jersey schools.

Disabled Student Rights in New Jersey

Disability Accommodations in New Jersey

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights states that New Jersey schools and those in all other states must protect a student's right to a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE). Therefore, students with disabilities must be afforded accommodations for qualifying impairments. The primary federal law governing the provisions in primary and secondary schools is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The law manages how schools recognize student disabilities and outlines how a student's education can be augmented through an individualized education plan (IEP). Schools must provide disabled students with an education in the "least restrictive environment" (LRE); therefore, students with disabilities cannot be separated from majority-student populations without appropriate reasoning. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act also directs New Jersey's colleges and universities to provide reasonable accommodations for degree-seeking students with disabilities. Accommodations for qualifying disabilities may include digital or physical equipment to increase communication and mobility, alterations to the learning environment, schedule adjustments, alternative assessment methods, and others that will guarantee equal education access.

ADA Issues and Lawsuits in New Jersey

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a further federal law requiring New Jersey's post-secondary schools to accommodate qualifying disabilities. The ADA covers numerous impairments, such as diabetes, HIV, heart disease, muscular dystrophy, hearing or vision loss, reduced mobility, and others. Nevertheless, the law also encompasses mental and emotional incapacities like ADHD, autism, dyslexia, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric conditions requiring medication. The federal government will enforce ADA disability rights through formal lawsuits or civil actions. For example, a federal judge granted class certification to parents of students with disabilities who alleged that New Jersey failed to resolve special education disputes within the federally-mandated 45-day timeframe.

New Jersey State Disability Laws

A congressional report ranks New Jersey near the bottom in its state inclusion efforts for students with disabilities. The report shows that only 44.6 percent of New Jersey students with disabilities are included in the general education classroom 80 percent or more of the day, the LRE standard. The remaining students spend the rest of their time in self-contained learning environments or out-of-district alternative education placements. If you or your student has a dispute with a New Jersey school over disability rights, reasonable accommodations, or access to programs and scholarships to provide FAPE, retain national education attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's Student Defense Team.

Disability as a Mitigating Factor in New Jersey

Disabilities Affecting Academic Progression Issues in New Jersey

Reasonable accommodations will assist a disabled student's access to FAPE, but those same students must also meet an institution's academic progression requisites. New Jersey schools mandate that all students are to meet satisfactory academic progress (SAP) standards while enrolled. SAP requirements usually include benchmarks of semester or cumulative grade point averages, semester course loads, completing a certain percentage of credits, and a maximum timeframe for graduation. However, New Jersey schools may fail to provide reasonable accommodations to students for them to meet SAP standards or adjust the requirements for students with disabilities to meet the school's academic standards. As a result, a disabled student may infringe upon a school's SAP policy and be subject to academic misconduct charges because of the institution's failure to recognize a qualifying disability. In that case, a student's disability rights may be a defense against unfair allegations brought forth by a school's narrow interpretation of its academic guidelines. Fortunately, national education attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento can uphold your rights and work with you to appeal to the school's administrative or disciplinary body against sanctions.

Disabilities Affecting Misconduct Discipline in New Jersey

Student disabilities can also influence a school's grievance proceedings. An emotional, mental, or physical disability could inhibit a student from defending themselves. State and federal disability laws require schools to also reasonably accommodate disabled students in disciplinary hearings, but schools may overlook provisions and misinterpret a student's actions. Autism, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others affect student behavior, and when students aren't reasonably accommodated, schools may unfairly punish students with disabilities. When punitive measures are on the table in disciplinary hearings, federal