Hatikvah Int’l Acad. Charter Sch. v. E. Brunswick Twp. Bd. of Educ.

The parties disputed who should pay for a special needs student’s private education. H.K. was a student at Hatikvah, a public charter school. After H.K.’s parents unilaterally moved H.K. to a private school, Hatikvah and H.K.’s parents agreed on an individualized education program (“IEP”) that kept H.K. at the private school. H.K.’s resident school district challenged the IEP. The District Court concluded that financial responsibility for H.K.’s tuition costs rested with Hatikvah but ordered the resident school district to pay for his transportation costs. The Third Circuit reversed in part. Hatikvah argued that the resident school district was responsible for H.K.’s pendent placement costs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s stay-put rule and N.J.S.A. § 18A:36A-11. The Third Circuit agreed. Though H.K.’s parents unilaterally moved him to the private school, H.K.’s parents and Hatikvah, i.e., the local educational agency, subsequently agreed to a new IEP that kept H.K. at that school. Because Hatikvah agreed to the IEP that prescribed the private school as H.K.’s educational setting and because H.K. was already a student at the private school when the stay-put rule was invoked, the stay-put rule protected H.K.’s pendent placement at the private school. Therefore, the resident school was obligated to fund H.K.’s pendent placement at the private school, including tuition and transportation costs.

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