New Law Extends Special Education Eligibility

June 16, 2021

On June 16, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed Senate Bill 3434 into law. For special education students who experienced significant learning loss due to pandemic-related school closures and are graduating in 2021, 2022, or 2023, this law provides the opportunity to access an additional year of special education services.

The enactment of this law allows students the possibility of recouping a year of crucial school-based transition services that were not delivered as intended or at all during the pandemic. These services include life and employment skills that help individuals with autism move toward independence, integrate in the community, and build relationships with potential employers.

Transition services are inherently community based and thus were some of the most difficult to maintain during the pandemic. In fact, some individuals with autism were completely shut out of any community interaction, employment opportunities, and preparation for adult services (e.g., visiting potential day programs).

“The many parents who passionately advocated for this legislation are breathing a sigh of relief for the chance to reclaim these critical missed services,” said Dr. Suzanne Buchanan, Autism New Jersey Executive Director.

Throughout the legislative process, Senator Dawn Addiego (D-8), Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37), Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-6), and Assemblyman John McKeon (D-27) not only sponsored but also championed the bill. We thank these legislators for their vision and steadfast leadership and the Governor for this substantial expansion of special education services. Collectively, their swift action will result in tangible benefit for students throughout the State.

For additional information on how to access the extended educational services made available by this law, please read our Practical Guide to the Law to Extend Special Education Eligibility.

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Have questions? Autism New Jersey recognizes and has expertise in the complexities of special education, transition, and adult services. If you have any questions, call our 800.4.AUTISM Helpline, email, or use the chat/messaging feature at the bottom of your screen.