Preschool Students and Special Education
Pre-school students with disabilities may be eligible for special education services as indicated under federal law, IDEA, and state law, N.J.A.C. 1:6A. In order to receive special education services, the pre-school child will need to be referred to the Child Study Team for evaluation. Children may be eligible for services on the day of their third birthday. The initial referral should be directed to the Director of Special Services. Once a referral is received, a meeting will be convened with the parent and the pre-school Child Study Team. If the parents and the child study team agree to conduct an evaluation, an evaluation plan will be designed. An evaluation plan typically includes a multi-disciplinary set of evaluations such as a cognitive assessment, social assessment and a speech and language evaluation. Other evaluations may be added if needed. Once the evaluations are completed, an eligibility meeting will be held to determine the student's eligibility for services. If the student is eligible for special education services, an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) will be developed and services will be initiated.
The entire process, from the development of the evaluation plan to the provision of services, must be completed within 90 days. Referrals are accepted at any time of the year. If the pre-school student is receiving county-based Early Intervention, the parent is encouraged to begin the process 120 days before the child's third birthday. This will ensure that services begin on the child's third birthday if the child is eligible for such services.
Questions regarding pre-school student identification and services should be directed to the Department of Special Services at 973-450-3500, Option 8.