Legal Memorandum: Special Education Program Accreditation

Issue: Whether special education program accreditation is required under the Naples Act.

Area of Law: Administrative Law, Administrative Law & Regulation (Federal and State), Education Law
Keywords: Special education program; Reimbursement of tuition; Unilateral parental placements
Jurisdiction: Federal, New Jersey
Cited Cases: 256 F. Supp. 2d 290; 693 A.2d 417
Cited Statutes: P.L.2007, c.260 (C.18A:7F-43 et al.); N.J.S.A. 18A:46-14; N.J.A.C. 6A:14-3.1(b).
Date: 03/01/2012

The relevant portion of the Naples Act provides:

Whenever a child study team determines that a suitable special education program for a child cannot be provided pursuant to subsection a., b., c., d., e., f., g., or h. of this section, and that the most appropriate placement for that child is in an academic program in an accredited nonpublic school within the State or, to meet particular circumstances, in any other state in the United States, the services of which are nonsectarian, and which is not specifically approved for the education of handicapped pupils, that child may be placed in that academic program by the board of education, with the consent of the commissioner, or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction.  An academic program which meets the requirements of the child’s Individual Education Plan as determined by the child study team and which provides the child with a thorough and efficient education, shall be considered an approved placement for the purposes of chapter 46 of this Title, and the board of education shall be entitled to receive State aid for that child as provided pursuant to P.L.2007, c.260 (C.18A:7F-43 et al.), and all other pertinent statutes.


N.J.S.A. 18A:46-14.

Judge Freda Wolfson recognized the reconciled tuition reimbursement by a public school for a special education student’s attendance at an educationally appropriate sectarian school with the prohibitions of the Naples Act.  In L.M. v. Evesham Twp. Bd. of Educ.,