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Appellate Division Approves Dual Send-Receive Relationship

By on May 9, 2017 in Students with 0 Comments

In an unpublished decision issued on May 4, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the final agency decision of the Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) approving the send-receive relationship between the Seaside Park Board of Education (“Seaside Park”) and the Lavallette Board of Education (“Lavallette”). The decision captioned In the Matter of the Petition for Authorization to Enter into a Sending-Receiving Relationship with the Board of Education of the Borough of Lavallette, Ocean County allows Seaside Park to send its students to Lavallette while maintaining its existing send-receive agreement with the Toms River Regional Schools Board of Education (“Toms River”).

In 2009, Seaside Park entered into a send-receive agreement with Toms River to educate its K-6 students after Seaside Park closed its elementary school. In March 2015, Seaside Park initiated a petition with the Commissioner requesting it to enter into a second sending-receiving relationship – this time with Lavallette – while maintaining its existing agreement with Toms River. Seaside Park argued that the send-receive relationship with Lavallette would provide greater educational choice to its families. Seaside Park never sought to end its send-receive relationship with Toms River.

As part of its petition, Seaside Park submitted a comprehensive feasibility study, which concluded that such a dual sending-receiving relationship would not have a negative education, financial, or racial impact on the three school districts. None of the parties challenged the recommendations and conclusion of the feasibility study.

Toms River and Lavallette did not oppose Seaside Park’s petition. Importantly, Toms River notified the Commissioner that it would not oppose the petition. In addition, Lavallette passed a resolution stating its readiness to receive Seaside Park’s students. As there was no opposition, public comment was held pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A: 3-6.1(b). Based on the feasibility study and public comment, the Commissioner approved Seaside Park’s petition in a final agency decision.

Thereafter, Toms River appealed the Commissioner’s decision to the Appellate Division. It argued that the Commissioner’s decision was unreasonable and contrary to statutory language and intent. Toms River also argued that the proposed send-receive relationship between Seaside Park and Lavallette improperly terminates its existing relationship with Seaside Park in violation of the law. In rejecting Toms River’s argument, the Appellate Division determined that the Commissioner’s decision was not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable because it was supported by substantial evidence – namely, the feasibility study, the parties’ positions, and public comments. The Court highlighted that Toms River raised no objection before the Commissioner. Furthermore, the Appellate Division reasoned that New Jersey law allows for dual send-receive agreements, such as the one proposed by Seaside Park, and Seaside Park did not terminate its agreement with Toms River.

In short, the Appellate Division upheld the Commissioner’s decision approving a dual sending-receiving relationship enabling Seaside Park to send its K-6 students to either the Lavallette or Toms River school districts to be educated.

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Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev

About the Author

About the Author:

Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. concentrates her practice on the representation of boards of education and charter schools in all areas of school law including: labor and employment, special education, Section 504, student discipline, FERPA, Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, student residency, civil rights, tenure, OPRA, and OPMA. In connection with these representations, she is experienced in handling matters before State and Federal courts, including the Office of Administrative Law. Ms. Dev is an experienced special education litigator and defends school districts in due process hearings from inception through trial. In addition, she has handled matters before governmental agencies, including the U.S. Office for Civil Rights and New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. Ms. Dev routinely conducts training and seminars, drafts policies and manuals, and provides strategic advice to school administrators regarding school law issues. Ms. Dev was recently recognized as one of South Jersey’s Awesome Attorneys as published by South Jersey Magazine. She is licensed to practice law in New Jersey, the District Court for the District of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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