Q. How does the NAPLES Act provide tuition funding for those enrolled in the Individual Education Services Plan at Voyagers’ Community School?
Payment of tuition by a public school district to Voyagers’ Community School is authorized by a section of the NJ educational law called the Naples Act (NJ18A:46-14). This nearly 25-year-old act broadened the scope of private schools where special needs students could be placed, thus allowing for a better fit between the child and the school and increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome. Placements under the Naples Act have been used throughout New Jersey to fund students’ education since 1989 and are commonplace and done every year by many districts in the State.
Q. Districts get reimbursement for special education placement by the state. Is the reimbursement different for approved schools vs. Naples placements?
No, reimbursement to a school district by the State is exactly the same. The approval status of a private school has no bearing on the reimbursement received by the school district. State aid for placement is based on formulas established in the School Funding Reform Act, N.J.S.A. 18A:7F et seq., and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., which does not consider the approval status of the private school placement.
Q. Is there any reason why a school district should be reluctant to use a Naples placement for a disabled student?
No! In fact, the opposite is true; districts should use Naples because it was specifically designed to help Child Study Teams (CST) have better choices to place disabled students. A reluctance to make such a placement limits the options for the CST and actually can make the district more vulnerable to legal action by disgruntled parents. Voyagers’ Community School, with its unique experiential, project-based, and hands-on approach, and its Individualized Education Services, is a viable alternative for a child who would thrive and shine in a child-centric and inclusive learning environment.
Q. What exactly is the Naples Amendment and when should it be used?
The Naples Act, N.J.S.A. 18A:46-14, allows special education students to be placed in an accredited private school and requires that it not be specifically approved for the education of the disabled. The term “Naples Act” is derived from the name of the legislator who was instrumental in the passage of this amendment to N.J.S.A..6A:14-6.5 on August 9, 1989. A Naples placement may be utilized whenever the Child Study Teams determines that the private accredited school is the most appropriate placement for the student. NJ.A.C. 6A:14- 6.5 (b) (3).
Q. Is the education curriculum different in a Naples placement school such as Voyagers’ from those in an approved school?
No. At Voyagers’ we teach all the academic subjects you’d expect, as was validated by Middle States Association accreditation. What’s different is our approach.We pay attention to the distinct learning strategies children use to make sense of the world, and we teach, guide, and mentor them, with individual focus made possible by an optimal student to teacher ratio which far surpasses state requirements, typically by at least 50%.
Q. What makes a private school eligible to accept Naples placement?
As long as a private school is accredited (e.g. Middle States Association) but not approved as a special education school, it is eligible to be a Naples placement for disabled students (N.J.S.A. 18A:46-14).
Q. Do I have to spend more time completing the paperwork to send a student to Voyagers’ than to an approved school?
Not at all. The paperwork is extremely simple. Voyagers’ will assist and advise during the preparation of a complete Naples package, including the short Naples application, for each placement. This will make the work of the district professional even easier. Like all out-of-district placements, the paperwork needs approval from the District’s Board of Education as part of the routine placement process and non-discriminatory NJ.A.C.6A:14-6.5 (a) (7).
Voyagers’ Community School is academically accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Voyagers’ does not discriminate based on race, creed, national origin or sexual orientation.
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