Millburn Township Board of Education (2015)
On March 23, 2015 the Honorable Tiffany Williams ordered the Millburn Township Board of Education to reimburse the parents of a student with emotional disabilities all costs of their daughter’s educational program and placement in a therapeutic residential school.
Paul Barger and Lori Gaines represented the family in their lawsuit against the Millburn Township Board of Education and are thrilled with this positive outcome for this family.
The federal and state special education laws recognize that there will be times when students can only benefit educationally if they are placed in residential schools. Unfortunately, school districts routinely reject parental requests for their children’s placements in residential schools. While these schools are expensive, there are times when they are necessary and school districts are required to pay for appropriate educational programs for special education students regardless of cost. Yet, school districts are quick to reject recommendations for residential schooling.
In this case, the Millburn Township Board of Education ignored abundant evidence of the student’s need for residential schooling and, in fact, never even bothered to research the school recommended for the student. This rejection forced this family to take their student’s education into their own hands and place the student, on their own, in the recommended residential school. The Board of Education’s rejection also forced this family to sue the District seeking a judicial determination that the Board of Education had to reimburse them the costs of their student’s residential school as the Board of Education ought to have made this educational placement on its own pursuant to its obligation to provide the student an appropriate education.
Judge Williams’ decision ordering the Board of Education to reimburse this family the costs of the residential program is an important one not just for the family but also for all families of all children who require residential schooling in order to receive an appropriate education.