S-3076/A-3997

“Prohibits Bonus Pay to Superintendents with Regard to Special Education Placement”

NJEA supports S-3076 (Ruiz, Sweeney) / A-3997(Casagrande, Singleton, Benson, Handlin, Jiminez).  This bill would prohibit a board of education from including a bonus in the employment contract of a school superintendent for reducing the number of students with special education needs enrolled in an out-of-district placement.

Under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students with special needs are to be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE) – whether that is in a general education classroom, inclusion classroom or special school placement.  Child Study Teams (CSTs), together with the parents of the student create an Individual Education Plan (IEP) based on the specific needs of that child and determine the best placement.  School superintendents should not be making the decision as to whether a child should be removed from an out-of-district placement.

Giving bonuses to superintendents has the potential to encourage decisions that will have a negative impact on student programming.  Decision makers will be pressured to make educational decisions that will enhance bonuses instead of ones that will ensure student success. 

NJEA is committed to supporting child centered efforts to improve the level and delivery of programs and services to students with special needs.  It is one of the reasons we supported legislation that would create a Task Force Improving Special Education Services for Public School Students.  However, placement decisions for our most vulnerable students should not be tied to bonus pay for school superintendents; it would be unethical to set such a precedent.

That is why we urge you to support S-3076 /A-3997.