The ACLU of New Jersey and its co-counsel Disability Rights Advocates and Proskauer Rose LLP filed a federal class action lawsuit against the New Jersey Department of Corrections (NJDOC) and Department of Education (NJDOE) for failing to provide a free, appropriate, public education to students with disabilities in adult prisons, in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 405 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The lawsuit sought a comprehensive remedial plan and monitoring to ensure that eligible students are identified, and appropriate services are provided.

In May 2017, the Court appointed a neutral expert to review and evaluate the NJDOC’s provision of special education – and the NJDOE’s oversight of it – in order to recommend solutions. Following submission of the Court-ordered expert report in 2018, the parties engaged in three years of settlement negotiations.

In July 2021, the parties signed a settlement agreement requiring the adoption of new policies by the NJDOC and a robust monitoring role for the NJDOE, supported by a Court-appointed External Monitor, for a period of five years. The settlement agreement also provides for the establishment of a compensatory education program.

The case is captioned Adam X., et al. v. New Jersey Department of Corrections and Department of Education, et al.


On July 21, 2021, the Court granted preliminary approval of the settlement agreement and certified the class. The class includes people who were incarcerated in NJDOC custody any time on or after January 11, 2015, and were or should have been identified as being entitled to special education services. It also includes anyone who entered custody under age 18, and without a high school diploma, during those years. It is estimated that the agreement impacts over 400 class members.

As part of the notice plan approved by the Court, class members will be contacted with information about the settlement agreement. Class members and others interested can read the Notice in the hyperlinked documents below, which also contains information on submitting objections and compensatory education forms.

A Fairness Hearing is scheduled before the District Court on January 26, 2022.

To file an objection, submit a completed compensatory education form, or request more information, please use the following address: ACLU of New Jersey, Attn: Class Action, P.O. Box 32159, Newark, NJ 07102. Requests for information may also be submitted via email and telephone as provided in the One-Page Flyer (PDF) and Full Notice Package (PDF).

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