Senate President Stephen Sweeney
Deputy Speaker John Burzichelli
Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro
Press staff reports Press of AC

A bill to create an administrative law unit to handle special education cases easily advanced through a state Senate budget committee Thursday, according to a news release.

“Students with disabilities too often are left in unfortunate positions and do not get the educational services they need for months due to continuing lengthy delays in court cases,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

“This bill would establish a dedicated panel of judges who have the understanding and experience to review and handle special education cases,” Sweeney said. “These judges will be able to expedite hearings to ensure that students with disabilities are able to receive the services and education they need in a timely manner.”

S-2160 would require the director and chief administrative law judge of the Office of Administrative Law to create a unit consisting of judges who have expertise in special education law. The number of administrative law judges in the unit would be proportional to the number and complexity of special education cases referred to the office. The legislation was a recommendation of the bipartisan Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup set up by Sweeney.

Under the bill, the director and chief administrative law judge would prepare an annual report to the governor and the Legislature. The report would include statistics on the number of special education cases referred to the special education unit and the average time to resolve the cases.

The act would take effect on the first day of the ninth month following enactment. The director and chief could take any action needed to enact the goals of the bill.

The bill was unanimously released from committee.