On July 5, the Appellate Division of Superior Court determined that a local elementary district that sends students to three different high schools is not required to pay tuition to send a student to a fourth high school. 

The court observed that Bradley Beach has a send-receive arrangement that permits its resident eighth grade students to attend either Asbury Park High School or Neptune High School at no cost to the students or their family.  A student may also attend the performing arts programs at Red Bank Regional High School, provided he or she is accepted on an individual basis. In the court case, the general education student had applied to Red Bank but was not accepted.  

Wanting to further his student’s dance education, the parent enrolled him at Shore Regional High School. The parent then presented the tuition bill to Bradley Beach for payment.  Bradley Beach refused to pay the tuition citing the sending-receiving agreements that it had with the other high schools.  The parent appealed to the New Jersey commissioner of education. 

On appeal, the commissioner agreed with the district.  The commissioner noted that while a district may pay tuition to another district for the student’s attendance, it was under no obligation to do so under the facts presented.  The commissioner found that the Bradley Beach board did not abuse its discretion or act in bad faith. The parent then appealed to the Appellate Division. 

The Appellate Division examined the decision and agreed with the district.  The Appellate Division noted that pursuant to statute, any individual under the age of 20 who lives within a school district is entitled to attend that district’s public school without paying tuition.  However, a board of education’s decision to pay for a student’s out-of-district tuition under these circumstances would be a discretionary decision – not a requirement. 

For further information about this case, please contact the NJSBA Legal and Labor Relations Department at (609278-5254 or your board attorney.