The New Jersey Department of Education has settled a seven-year-old federal lawsuit that alleged that students with disabilities were improperly separated from their non-disabled peers. According to the settlement agreement, Plaintiffs brought the suit on behalf of children with disabilities saying that they were not being educated in the "least restrictive environment" in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other state and federal laws. The case was brought at the state level, though individual school districts ultimately make the determination about where to place children and how to deliver services. Plaintiffs argued that the state did not fulfill its responsibility to oversee those local decision-making processes.
Under the settlement agreement, the state will focus on the school districts within the state that have the lowest percentages of inclusion for students with disabilities. The state will also be required to provide training, complete site visits, and increase oversight of districts.