Tuition Funding at Cornerstone Day School
Payment of tuition by a public school district to Cornerstone Day School is authorized through a section of the NJ educational law called the Naples Act (NJ18A:46-14). This nearly 25 year old act broadened the scope of private schools where special needs students could be placed, thus allowing for a better fit between the child and the school and increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome. Placements under the Naples Act have been used throughout New Jersey to fund students’ education since 1989 and are commonplace and done every year by many districts in the State.
Since Cornerstone opened in 2006, over 100 school districts in New Jersey have placed students in the school through the use of the Naples Act.
Q. Districts get reimbursement for special education placement by the state. Is the reimbursement different for approved schools vs. Naples placements?
A. No, reimbursement to a school district by the State is exactly the same. The approval status of a private school has no bearing on the reimbursement received by the school district. State aid for placement is based on formulas established in the School Funding Reform Act, N.J.S.A. 18A:7F et seq., and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., which do not consider the approval status of the private school placement.
Q. Is there any reason why a school district should be reluctant to use a Naples placement for a disabled student?
A. No! In fact, the opposite is true; districts should use Naples because it was specifically designed to help CST’s have better choices to place disabled students. A reluctance to make such a placement limits the options for the CST and actually can make the district more vulnerable to legal action by disgruntled parents. Cornerstone Day School, with its unique dual emphasis on a quality education and a comprehensive psychiatric treatment program is a unique alternative for a difficult to place child.
Q. What exactly is the Naples Amendment and when should it be used?
A. The Naples Act, N.J.S.A. 18A:46-14, allows special education students to be placed in an accredited private school, and requires that it not be specifically approved for the education of the disabled. The term “Naples Act” is derived from the name of the legislator who was instrumental in the passage of this amendment to N.J.S.A..6A:14-6.5 on August 9, 1989. A Naples placement may be utilized whenever the CST determines that the private accredited school is the most appropriate placement for the student. NJ.A.C. 6A:14- 6.5 (b) (3).
Q. Is the education curriculum or the teaching staff credentials different in a Naples placement school such as Cornerstone from those in an approved school?
A. No, not at Cornerstone! The academic program at Cornerstone meets all of the NJ core curriculum standards and the teaching staff are always both special education certified and highly qualified in the subject area in which they teach. Moreover, the teacher to student ratio at Cornerstone far surpasses state requirements, typically by at least 50%.
Q. What makes a private school eligible to accept Naples placement?
A. As long as a private school is accredited (e.g. Middle States) but not approved, it is eligible to be a Naples placement for disabled students (N.J.S.A. 18A:46-14).
Q. Do I have to spend more time completing the paperwork to send a student to Cornerstone than to an approved school?
A. Not at all. The paperwork is extremely simple and Cornerstone prepares a complete package, including the short Naples application, for each placement making the work of the school professional even easier. Like all out-of-district placements, the paperwork needs approval from the District’s Board of Education as part of the routine placement process and non-discriminatory NJ.A.C.6A:14-6.5 (a) (7).