Y.B. v. Howell Township Board of Educa


PRECEDENTIAL UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT _____________ No. 20-1840 _____________ Y.B., on behalf of S.B.; F.B., on behalf of S.B. v. HOWELL TOWNSHIP BOARD OF EDUCATION, Y.B., on behalf of S.B., Appellant _____________ On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (D.C. No. 3-18-cv-10950) District Judge: Honorable Brian R. Martinotti _____________ Submitted on January 21, 2021 Before: HARDIMAN, ROTH, Circuit Judges, and PRATTER,* District Judge. (Filed: July 19, 2021) Michael I. Inzelbuch 555 Madison Avenue S.I. Bank & Trust Building Lakewood, NJ 08701 Counsel for Appellant Viola S. Lordi Eric J. Marcy, Sr. Wilentz Goldman & Spitzer 90 Woodbridge Center Drive Suite 900, Box 10 Woodbridge, NJ 07095 Counsel for Appellee * The Honorable Gene E.K. Pratter, District Judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, sitting by designation. 2 ________________ OPINION OF THE COURT ________________ HARDIMAN, Circuit Judge. This appeal arises under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. Section 1415(j) of that law—commonly known as the “stay- put” provision—provides generally that eligible students must remain in their current educational settings during certain procedures. But Section 1414(d)(2)(C)(i)(I)—the intrastate transfer provision—says that schools need only provide eligible transfer students comparable services to those they were previously receiving. The question presented is whether the “stay-put” provision applies, thereby requiring provision of the same services the child was previously receiving, when a student voluntarily transfers school districts within a state. Like the District Court, we hold it does not. I A S.B. is a twelve-year-old boy diagnosed with Down Syndrome. As a result, he “shows delays in cognitive, social, and motor areas,” Dist. Ct. Dkt. No. 1-3, at 3, and requires special educational care. In 2014, S.B. and his parents moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Lakewood, New Jersey. Upon the family’s arrival, S.B.’s parents requested an individualized education program (IEP) for S.B. from the Lakewood Township School District. Id. Lakewood determined it could not provide S.B. an IDEA-mandated free appropriate public 3 education (FAPE) at its own public schools, so it crafted an IEP that placed S.B. at the private School for Children with Hidden Intelligence (SCHI). Lakewood reimbursed Appellant for SCHI-associated costs. In November 2016, shortly after S.B.’s Lakewood IEP was renewed for another year—including the provision providing for his placement at SCHI—the family moved homes and transferred S.B. from Lakewood to the Howell School District. Howell’s staff reviewed the Lakewood IEP and met with S.B. and his parents at Memorial Elementary School. After meeting with S.B., Howell informed Appellant “that [S.B.’s] IEP can be implemented in [Howell’s special education] class at Memorial Elementary School where [S.B.] will receive a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.” Dist. Ct. Dkt. No. 20-7, at 1. Despite this assurance, Appellant continued to send S.B. to SCHI. On February 3, 2017, Howell terminated S.B.’s enrollment. B In July 2017, over seven months after Howell informed Appellant it would provide S.B. a FAPE …

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