To Access Online Services, New Jersey Students With Disabilities Must Promise Not To Sue

Rebecca Klein:

Some New Jersey schools have been forcing students with disabilities to sign waivers promising not to sue the district before giving them access to special education services, HuffPost has learned. 

A form distributed by districts asks families to “waive and relinquish; fully release and discharge; and indemnify and hold harmless” the school district and all of its employees “from all claims, liabilities, causes of action, costs, expenses, attorneys’ fees, damages, indemnities, and obligations of every kind and nature, in law, equity, or otherwise,” before providing students with the counseling and speech services outlined in their individualized education program, or IEP. (An IEP is the legal document that details the educational services districts are required to provide to a given student with disabilities.) 

The form, devised with help from an education law firm, has raised alarms for disability advocates and lawyers, who have taken up the matter with the New Jersey Department of Education. Rebecca Schore, the legal advocacy director at Disability Rights New Jersey, said her organization already has two clients who have been asked to sign the waiver in order to receive counseling and speech support. 

“If the parent refuses to sign it, they will absolutely withhold services,” Schore said.