Parents of students with disabilities can place their children in private schools and seek reimbursement from the public school. But it is not easy for them to prevail in litigation. They have to prove that the public school failed to provide a free appropriate public education, and that the private school will do the job properly. But they also have to give the public school fair warning of their intent to pursue this course of action.
That notice requirement was the reason that a parent in New Jersey lost his bid for tuition reimbursement. The court held that he failed to give timely notice. The sequence of events was critical:
July 10: parent filed application for son to attend The Forman School, a private college prep boarding school;
August 7: child is accepted;
August 13: parent signs enrollment agreement;
August 16: parent pays full first year tuition ($61,700); (Yowza!!)
August 24: parent sends letter to district, stating his intent to place child in private school, and to seek reimbursement;
September 6: student begins attending orientation at Forman;
September 7: IEP Team meets, develops revisions to the proposed IEP the school would offer.
During the September 7th meeting, the parent revealed that the student was attending Forman’s orientation program. Upon learning this, the school terminated the meeting.
The parent is required to give written notice of the intent to remove a student and seek removal at least 10 business days before the removal. The court held here that the student’s removal was a “fait accompli” as of August 13th. Thus the notice that the parent sent on August 24th was late. The case is W.D. v. Watchung Hills Regional High School Board of Education, 65 IDELR 63; 602 F.App’x 564 (3rd Cir. 2015).
DAWG BONE: I.D.E.A. SPELLS OUT A LOT OF PARENT RIGHTS, BUT ALSO A FEW RESPONSIBILITIES.