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Metuchen brings in educator for new special education program

METUCHEN – In an effort to become more inclusive, a program for the 18- to 21-year-old group will begin in the new school year at Metuchen High School.

Metuchen School District Superintendent of Schools Vincent Caputo introduced 14 new teachers at a Board of Education meeting on Aug. 27, including Jennifer List, a special education teacher, who will start the program.

List comes to the district with experience with 18- to 21-year-olds, job training and community-based instruction.

“I’m very excited to start this program in Metuchen,” she said. “Thank you for the opportunity and I can’t wait to work with everyone on the upcoming school year.”

List earned her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from New York School of Visual Arts and a master’s degree in teaching/special education from Pace University, New York. She earned her teacher certification for elementary school – kindergarten through sixth grade – and students with disabilities.

Prior to coming to Metuchen High School, List spent four years as a special education teacher in New York and three years as a paraprofessional at a state-approved school for students with disabilities that specializes in autism and developmental disabilities.

In April, the board approved a $39.7 million operating budget, up 3.25% over the 2018-19 budget, which includes the program for the 18- to 21-year-old group.

Tania Herzog, director of special services, proposed the program before the board in March during her special education budget presentation.

The proposal for programming for the 18-21 age group, Herzog said, will be “good for the kids, good for the families and it will make the community stronger and more inclusive.”

“It makes sense fiscally for long-term planning, especially with our current students in-district in our self-contained classes as they get older,” she said.

Also, district administrators said providing for those students in-district would save the district on costs for out-of-district placement tuition, which administrators said they have no control over and have described as “egregious” increases.

Herzog said out-of-district placements is the largest expense for the special education department other than staff salaries.

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