Oxford schools ordered to reimburse parents

By The Associated Press

OXFORD — The Oxford School District says it will appeal a state decision that it pay the parents of a special needs child $60,000 to reimburse their cost of having to send their child to an out-of-state school.

Schools Superintendent Kimberly Stasny tells the Oxford Eagle that the school board will appeal the order to federal court, which has jurisdiction over the Disabilities Education Act.

Oxford attorney Ronald Lewis, who represents the parents, says the parents asked to be reimbursed for expenses for placing their child in a residential school out of state because they contend the Oxford School District was not providing services they said their child needed.

The parents had asked for a hearing before the Mississippi Department of Education, which sided with the parents in a recent decision.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the nation’s special education students are entitled to a “free and appropriate public education.” Federal law calls for school districts to reimburse students or their families for education costs when public schools do not have services that address or fulfill the students’ needs.

In 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled parents of students with learning disabilities can in many instances bypass public school special education programs and be reimbursed for private school tuition instead. That decision came in an Oregon case.

Lewis said the parents were pleased with the decision and hope to eventually bring their child back to the Oxford School District.