Sayreville addresses increasing special education population


The number of students receiving special education services in the Sayreville Public School District is increasing.

“One of the main problems that we’re focusing on right now in special education is, first and foremost, the fact that we have a rising number of students being made eligible for special education services,” Superintendent Richard R. Labbe said during the Sayreville Board of Education meeting on Dec. 16 as part of the annual State of the Schools Address, which provides the board and the public with the current condition of the school district.

Labbe said the problem is compounded by the current number of special education students being above the normal threshold. As of the meeting, 1,158 students are enrolled in special education, which is 19 percent of the district. According to Labbe, about only 15 percent should be receiving aid.

Labbe noted that the higher percentage caused Sayreville’s school district to be cited by the federal government in a 2014- 15 compliance report. Of the 1,158 special education students, 90 are in preschool, 934 are of school age, and 134 receive speech and language services only.

However, Labbe revealed there are also 30 potential special services cases in preschool. The 30 were identified in a collaboration between the school district and Early Intervention Services, which helps discover developmental delays and disabilities in young children.

The children identified will be evaluated to determine if they are eligible for special education when they reach the age of three.

“We’re probably going to have to hire an additional teacher as a long-term sub sometime in February or March just because of the rising number of students that are going into our preschool population,” Labbe said.

He acknowledged the growing amount of students requiring special services has caused a significant increase in special education instructors. Four unbudgeted special education teachers were hired in 2013, and three additional unbudgeted special education teachers were hired last year.

In addition to those enrolled in Sayreville’s public schools, there are 82 out of district students receiving special education services.

“That number is increasing as we speak,” Labbe said, referring to the out-ofdistrict cases. “For some reason, we’re getting a high number of students moving into the borough who are currently in a private, out-of-district placement. When a situation like that occurs, you have to provide them equal IEP (Individualized Education Program).”