July 12, 2013
Juvenile Law Center Issues Comments Challenging NJ Dept. of Education's Alternative Education Proposal
In a disappointing and surprising move, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) recently issued a proposal to expand its definition of "alternative education" while eliminating regulations governing alternative schools in New Jersey.
Juvenile Law Center submitted comments challenging this proposal, arguing that it would have a negative impact on at-risk students—particularly those returning from juvenile justice placements—and would place New Jersey out of step with national best practices seeking to minimize school push-out.
Eliminating regulations for alternative schools—like the requirement to consult with students' parents before placing them in an alternative program, or providing services to facilitate students' transitions back to regular or special education settings—creates additional barriers to success for at-risk students.
Unfortunately, even under the existing regulations, some New Jersey school districts send students re-entering from juvenile justice placements into alternative schools regardless of their particular learning needs (read more about that here). This practice is especially harmful because students involved in the juvenile justice system are already more likely than their peers to drop out of high school.
Photo via Nirazilla on Flickr