Sunday LeftoversMarch 17, 2013
Embarrassing Moments in School Board GovernanceMarch 18, 2013
Education Law Center has just issued a press release that describes a new ruling by Ed. Comm. Chris Cerf regarding the financial responsibilities of school districts when a child with disabilities is placed in a group home and the parents move out-of-state.
In this case, a child with multiple disabilities, referred to in court documents as K.O.L, resided in Hillside (Union County) with his father. The NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities placed the boy in a group home in 2010 and, per his Individualized Education Plan, enrolled him in a private special education school. As required under law, K.O.L.’s district of residency, Hillside, paid for the educational portion of his program. The year after his placement, K.O.L’s father, R.L, moved to Massachusetts and is currently homeless. Hillside Public Schools sought to stop paying for the educational portion of K.O.L.’s program and sought reimbursement from the father for tuition paid while K.L. was out of state.
From the press release (which contains a link to Comm. Cerf’s March 5th ruling):
The Commissioner ultimately agreed with ELC that:
• the parent “bears no financial responsibility whatsoever in this matter” since tuition must be charged to the district of residency or, for parents residing out-of-state, to the State of New Jersey;
• Hillside must be bound by the 2010 district of residence determination “unless and until” that determination is reversed on re-determination or appeal.
“This important ruling will prevent gaps in educational services for special needs students in group homes whose parents move,” said Elizabeth Athos, the ELC Senior Attorney who argued this case. “The purpose of the law in this case is clear: to protect students from the harm caused by being out of school.”