Six factors for Home Buyers with Special Needs Children to consider.

School ratings, rankings, and reputation are some of the most important factors for homebuyers in New Jersey.  Families often sacrifice commuting time, space, and budget, all to be in a “good” school district.  For a family of a child with disabilities who requires special education, this decision is all the more important.

For children who require special education services in school, a “good” school in the general education realm may not be good enough.  For example, a “good” school may be in a district that is notorious for denying services, or may not provide adequate integration. With that said, Northern N.J. has many school districts that are recognized for their superior special education programs and are highly sought after.  Prior to a home purchase, it is helpful for parents to research the school districts they are considering by gathering information about the school, the district, and the services provided.
Here are some things to consider:
  1. Remember, your realtor is prohibited from sharing their judgment of a “good school” with you due to Fair Housing Law, so don’t rely on them to guide you.
  2. The websites that rank schools based on test scores and college admissions can certainly provide a good indication of the educational quality, but they will likely not account for special-education services, school integration, and the district’s willingness to provide services without a fight.
  3. Parents of special-needs children who have been through the process of obtaining an IEP, receiving services, and seeing improvements are the best sources for your research.
  4. Don’t count on buying a home in a town with the idea that your child will receive an out-of-district placement in a private school or better equipped public school. This is a difficult process, limited to qualifying cases. Out-of-district placement in NJ is under 10% and may begin to decrease with anticipated decreases in school budgets.
  5. Consult with an experienced Advocate in the neighborhood you are considering, to get a feel for what kind of pushback you can expect in that district.
  6. Once your research is complete, keep in mind that the neighborhoods that you determine are the best fit for your family are probably highly sought after. In these competitive real estate markets it is especially important to be prepared and to have a great Realtor helping you. It is also helpful to line up a Real Estate Attorney and a Mortgage Company/Bank early in the process- the Buyer who is more prepared is often successful in a competitive market.
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