Approved Private Schools for Students with Disabilities (APSSDs)
Ensuring the Provision of Services
APSSDs must remain in communication with their sending school districts during this time to determine how to meet the needs of their students in a manner that is consistent with the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and the Mandated Tuition Contract to the most appropriate extent possible. Those communications should be guided by the district’s emergency preparedness plan and the provisions of this webpage. Instruction that is provided to students during school closure due to COVID-19 as part of the APSSD’s documented discussion and agreement with the sending district will be considered allowable costs and each day that such agreed-upon services are available to students will count toward the 180-day requirement for APSSDs.
Maintaining Business Operations
APSSDs should maintain business operations in a manner that will enable their independent auditor and the New Jersey Department of Education to ensure compliance with N.J.A.C. 6A:14 and 6A:23A-18 to the maximum extent possible. This also means ensuring that APSSD staff maintains documentation of services provided to students and the duration, as well as, time worked by APSSD staff in the office or remotely.
Providing Meals to APSSD students
APSSDs should work with the student’s sending districts to ensure that students who need meals have access at the school district level.
One-to-one Aides for Students
The plan for provision of any related services to students in APSSDs should be discussed with and agreed to by the sending district.
APSSD COVID-19 Paid Time Off (PTO) Policy
APSSDs may implement a Board-approved policy to provide leave during the COVID-19 school closures pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-18.5(f)13. APSSDs should submit the Board approved policy, along with a copy of Board minutes, for Commissioner’s approval as soon as possible to allow for approval prior to the close of the 2019-2020 school year. Such policies should conform to the following guidelines:
- APSSD staff that are currently working during the COVID-19 school closures shall document time worked pursuant to the Department’s guidance, and not use COVID-19 leave time;
- APSSD staff that are not working due to an illness not related to COVID-19, or on a scheduled vacation, shall use PTO, vacation, or sick time in accordance with APSSD’s existing policies, and not use COVID-19 leave time;
- For audit purposes, APSSDs shall maintain documentation of employees paid COVID-19 leave that protects employee health information and any details or delineation that may be necessary; and
- COVID-19 leave shall be used only during a mandated closure of the school due to a declared state of emergency, declared public health emergency, or a directive by the appropriate health agency or officer to institute a public-health related closure.
- APSSDs that voluntarily closed prior to such mandated closure should utilize existing PTO, sick, or other leave during that time, based on the APSSD’s existing policy
APSSD Hourly Employees
APSSDs and staff should consult the New Jersey Department of Labor’s COVID-19 website for information on benefits for non-salaried employees that are impacted by the COVID-19 school closures and not covered by the APSSD’s COVID-19 leave policy.
APSSDs should attempt to provide these services remotely or virtually to the maximum extent possible and should work with the sending district board of education to do so in accordance with the Special Education guidance.
P.L. 2020, c. 27 and APSSDs
APSSDs were advised via broadcast on May 5, 2020 of the requirement to update and submit Public Health-Related Closure Plans pursuant to P.L. 2020, c. 27 (A-3904) in order to count days during the closure period toward the requirement to provide instruction at school facilities for 180 days. As long as APSSDs are providing instruction and services that count towards the 180 day requirement, NJDOE-approved tuition rates charged continue to apply, even if services are truncated due to the nature of delivery during the period in which in-person instruction is prohibited.
Please be advised that APSSDs and sending districts remain bound by existing executed mandated tuition contracts, and that districts retain the right, as the Local Education Agency pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), to request documentation from the APSSD to ensure the delivery of special education and related services as required by a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) developed by the sending district.
The Department is aware that APSSDs provide extraordinary services to students as deemed appropriate by the student’s IEP and executed in the mandated tuition contracts as a separate fee in addition to the tuition rate charged to sending districts. The Department is also aware that in some instances, APSSDs serve as an approved clinic or agency to students not enrolled in the APSSD pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:14-5.2. APSSDs and school districts should consult with legal counsel in those cases to determine whether they are subject to the provisions of P.L. 2020, c. 27 applicable to contracted service providers, and work with each other within the bounds of the law, current contracts, and the IDEA to resolve any disagreement over the payment or services to be provided.
Federal Paycheck Protection Program
Please see the Department’s Q&As for APSSDs Regarding Loans Received from the Federal Paycheck Protection Program
The Department encourages APSSDs that encounter questions not answered by this webpage to send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, to review existing regulations and guidance for APSSDs, and to utilize the following State resources: