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U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Splits On Private Tuition

Posted Oct 10, 2007 9:32 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Viacom executive will be able to get tuition reimbursement for his special-needs child because of a 4-4 split by the U.S. Supreme Court today.

The split upholds a ruling by the New York City-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed reimbursement even though the parents had not received special education services in the public schools, SCOTUSblog reports.

At issue was a federal law that requires cities to reimburse parents for private-school tuition if their child can’t receive an appropriate education in the public schools and has "previously received special education" by a public agency. In oral arguments (PDF), justices questioned whether the statute required some kind of a stint in the public schools.

The suit was filed by a former Viacom executive, Thomas Freston, after the city refused to pay for tuition of his son, who has attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The child never attended public school.

Freston had argued there was no need to enroll his son in public schools because they were unable to meet his needs, the Associated Press reports in its coverage of today's action.

The case is New York City Board of Education v. Tom F (PDF).

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