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Special Education

For both the most current and archival information on ELC’s special education work, please visit our News page.

To stay up-to-date on our work, subscribe to our electronic news releases by entering your contact information in the Join Our Network box on the lower right-hand side of this page.


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused particular hardship for many students with disabilities. To assist the parents in understanding their children's rights during the pandemic, ELC has prepared "COVID-19 and Students with Disabilities: Frequently Asked Questions," "What Special Education Parents Need to Know Now that S3434 Has Been Signed," and "FAQ on Compensatory Education in Response to COVID-19."

Advocacy & Litigation

In New Jersey and nationally, ELC works to ensure students with disabilities receive the full range of educational services they are entitled to under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA).  Through systemic litigation, individual advocacy, legislative work, parent and attorney trainings, know-your-rights publications, and coalition building, ELC has impacted the lives of many thousands of students.

In a New Jersey advocacy effort, ELC challenged the issuance of Opinion 56 on “Non-Lawyer Special Education Consultants and the Unauthorized Practice of Law” by the Supreme Court Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law, objecting to the Committee’s failure to solicit public comment on the important issues at stake. In response, the Committee suspended Opinion 56, asked for public comment, and published Opinion 57 on April 14, 2021. More information about this advocacy effort and the superseding Opinion 57 is available here.

One of ELC’s most significant New Jersey cases,M.A. v. Newark Public Schools, resulted in a comprehensive settlement designed to reform Newark’s inadequate special education referral and evaluation system under the oversight of a State monitor, along with implementation of a comprehensive special education database, mandatory staff training, and extensive reporting of compliance activities. 

In Michigan, ELC, the ACLU of Michigan, and the White & Case law firm brought a class action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of parents and students of Flint, Michigan. The groundbreaking case, D.R. v. Michigan Department of Education, cites ongoing violations of the IDEA in Flint Public Schools, noting that children’s exposure to lead in their drinking water can exacerbate disabilities and increase the number of students requiring special education services.

Information on other important ELC special education cases can be found here.

In collaboration with Volunteer Lawyers for Justice and other partners, hundreds of attorneys in New Jersey have been trained by ELC to handle special education cases on a pro bono basis. ELC also established and hosts New Jersey Special Education Practitioners, an organization with over 100 attorney and non-attorney advocate members who meet regularly to share special education advocacy strategies and work together to affect policy changes at the state and local levels. As a member of the New Jersey Coalition for Special Education Funding Reform, ELC advocates for an adequate and equitable, statewide, special education funding mechanism. ELC also partners with SPAN Parent Advocacy Network on advocacy projects and refers parents to SPAN's Parent Training & Information Center for special education resources and materials.

For additional resource information about special education and specific disabilities, please visit the New Jersey Department of Education’s website.


ELC's publication, The Right to Special Education in New Jersey, with over 50 pages of text, 20 forms and nearly 600 footnotes, is the go-to book for special education attorneys and parents alike. A Spanish version of the report is also available.

To read other ELC reports on special education, visit the Publications page on this website.