Imagine that parents have placed their child in a pricey private school and sought tuition reimbursement from the public school. The parents allege that the school has not been providing the FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) that the law mandates. Imagine that the parents are successful…up to a point. The court rules that the school did not provide the needed services during the 2018-19 school year, and that the problems persisted during the fall of 2019. But the court also ruled that in January, 2020 the school district revised the IEP and offered a program that would provide FAPE. The parents turned it down, and kept the student in the private school. They think the public school has to continue to fund the private placement.
The school owes the parents some money for 2018-19 and for the first semester of the 2019-20 school year. But is there any reason why the school should have to fund private schooling after the date it offered FAPE? Shouldn’t the reimbursement order be cutoff as of January, 2020?
I think so. So does the 1st Circuit. The parents argued that the “stay put” rule required the public school to continue to pay for the private school as long as the appeals continued. The 1st Circuit rejected that argument, and in doing so, cited the purposes of IDEA. To hold otherwise, the court noted:
….would put the school district on the hook for placement at a private school for the pendency of litigation. IDEA litigation can be years long and, in that time, private school tuition can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars….Not only does the plain language of Sections 1415(j) and 300.518(d) foreclose such a reading, but such an outcome is contrary to the IDEA’s purposes.
It’s Mr. and Mrs. Doe v. Portland Public Schools, decided by the 1st Circuit on March 29, 2022. We found it on Special Ed Connection at 80 IDELR 207.
DAWG BONE: PUBLIC SCHOOL FINANCE IS A ZERO SUM GAME. OVER SPENDING ON ONE STUDENT MEANS UNDER SPENDING ON ANOTHER.
Got a question or comment for the Dawg? Let me hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow: one for the Sheesh-O-Meter.