Education

Berkeley Heights Schools Attorney Explains Ins and Outs of Send-Receive Relationships

794f24a332d5fc8e8095_carousel_image_ae6e7b122869f31e6da6_carousel_image_b88cafa8ca93825d90a2_best_89c299f1bbb38de34850_images.jpg
794f24a332d5fc8e8095_carousel_image_ae6e7b122869f31e6da6_carousel_image_b88cafa8ca93825d90a2_best_89c299f1bbb38de34850_images.jpg

MOUNTAINSIDE – Mountainside school officials may be seeking another high school to send its students to instead of Governor Livingston in the Berkeley Heights district, but actually implementing such a move is no easy task.

Speculation abounds as to why Mountainside has asked several other school districts within a 15-mile radius if they would be willing to receive Mountainside freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors at their high schools. Reasons range from disappointment by some in Governor Livingston High School's academic ranking, to residents questioning the per-pupil tuition rate Mountainside pays to send its high schoolers to Berkeley Heights.

Despite Mountainside's investigation into other receiving-district options, Helen Kirsch, President of the Berkeley Heights Board of Education, said back in June that her school district and Mountainside are currently in negotiations to renew a contract known as a send-receive agreement, which expires after the 2016-17 academic year.

Sign Up for E-News

Mountainside has been sending its public school students to Governor Livingston for roughly the past 20 years.

Watchung Hills Regional High School school district is the only other district in the area publicly known to be discussing whether to answer a request for proposal (RFP) sent to it by Mountainside on the matter. See related article.

Timothy Stys, the business administrator at Watchung Hills, wrote in an email to TAPinto.net that it is “undecided at this time” if his school district will answer the Mountainside RFP, the deadline for which has been extended to mid-October..

However, should Watchung Hills decide to answer, he said, “at a minimum, the Board would have to prepare a revised demographic study.”

But even if another district, like Watchung Hills, is ready, willing and able to receive Mountainside students, Mountainside would first have to notify the state commissioner of education that it intends to sever its current send-receive relationship, according to Vito Gagliardi, attorney for the Berkeley Heights Board of Education. Notifying the commissioner means that Mountainside would then have to go to court.

“The law says that you cannot end a send-receive relationship without filing a contested case before the state commissioner of education, in which you prove that there would be no substantial negative educational, racial or financial impact on any of the communities involved,” Gagliardi said by phone on Aug. 20. “Whoever wants to end the relationship must file the lawsuit.”

Such lawsuits are argued before an administrative law judge, who acts as a hearing officer for the  commissioner of education, Gagliardi said. Once arguments are heard from attorneys and testimony is given by expert witnesses, the administrative law judge reports his or her “recommended findings of fact and conclusions of law” to the commissioner of education.

If the parties involved are not happy with those findings, the parties can file exceptions with the commissioner, Gagliardi said. The commissioner then looks at the administrative law judge's recommendations, looks at the parties' exceptions and makes a decision on whether to approve ending the current send-receive relationship. Approval from the commissioner is also required to enter into a new relationship.

The commissioner's “decision is a final decision appealable to the appellate division of Superior Court, just as you can appeal at trial court,” Gagliardi said. “There are cases when both parties agree to end a relationship but the commissioner of education would not allow the relationship to be ended.”

Gagliardi described filing a lawsuit to end a send-receive relationship and enter into a new one as “a fairly expensive proposition.” Besides legal fees, lawyers have to be paid, along with experts to write reports and appear in court. 

“It's certainly a couple of hundred thousand dollars, depending on the nature of the dispute,” he said. “That's why you don't see a lot of these cases, because they're expensive and the outcome is somewhat uncertain.”

“The process is set up in such a way to protect children,” Gagliardi said. “You want to have stability. You don't want to see these relationships beginning and ending and children being shuffled from one high school to another.”

Gagliardi did confirm that there have been recent discussions between the Berkeley Heights and Mountainside school districts regarding their existing send-receive agreement. 

He was also emphatic about explaining the difference between a send-receive “agreement” and a send-receive “relationship.”

“They are different,” Gagliardi said.

As an example, he asked hypothetically what would happen starting in the fall of 2017, after the send-receive agreement between Mounatinside and Berkeley Heights expired, if there was no new agreement in place and nobody filed anything with the commissioner of education.

“The law answers that question,” Gagliardi said. “Mountainside kids would still go to Berkeley Heights. Berkeley Heights would charge Mountainside a per-pupil cost. Mountainside would be obligated to pay the per-pupil cost.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

HOLD: Fellowship Helping Hands Receives Home Care Award

February 17, 2018

Fellowship Helping Hands, the home care agency operated by Fellowship Senior Living in Basking Ridge,  has received the 2018 Best of Home Care® – Provider of Choice Award from Home Care Pulse, announced Liz Fandel, vice president of Home Community Based Services at Fellowship Senior Living.

Fellowship Helping Hands is a New Jersey licensed home care service for older and ...

New Jersey Youth Symphony Announces Bring A Buddy Week March 4-8

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ—New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) invites young musicians in grades 3-11 to attend open rehearsals for Bring A Buddy Week, March 4-8 at 570 Central Avenue in New Providence. Participating students will observe the first half of a rehearsal. Students can visit any ensemble based on their grade and experience level. Students who do not have a friend in an ensemble can still ...

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense Will Meet on Tues, Feb. 20, at LaGrande Park Building

FANWOOD, NJ -- Following the mass shooting in Florida this week, the Union County Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense will meet on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 7:00 p.m. at the LaGrande Park Building  in Fanwood.

"Every life cut short by gun violence -- that somehow becomes a statistic -- is tucked away in our hearts, never to be lost," wrote Patti ...

Register Now to Save! Berkeley Heights Community Pool at the YMCA Early Bird Registration until February 28

With summer just around the corner, it will be hard not to look out the window and dream of warmer days and cool, crystal clear pools that are ready for swimming and splashing. With the Berkeley Heights Community Pool at the YMCA early bird registration currently open, signing up sooner will save money and give you something to look forward to once the summer sun hits! Since 1964, the Berkeley ...

Colleen Mahr Is The Leader Our Party Needs

February 13, 2018

Dear Editor:

My name is Patti Murgo. I am Committeewoman in Linden’s Eighth Ward. I am a life-long  DEMOCRAT, a party activist, and a believer in what being a democrat stands for. Last week, I received a piece of literature from our municipal chairman, Nick Scutari, regarding his “plans” for the County Democratic Party if he is elected county chairman.

Mr.

No One Is More Qualified and Capable to be Our Next Democratic Committee Chair Than Colleen Mahr

Dear Editor:

Mayor Colleen Mahr has been a pillar of consistency in Union County for the last 20 years, having devoted her life to public service. There is no one more qualified and capable to lead us as our next Union County Democratic Committee Chair.

Colleen has mentored, coached and supported countless candidates running for office in Union County, all across our 21 ...

Mayor Colleen Mahr Is a Strong and Capable Leader

Dear Editor:

In  all the years I’ve known Mayor Colleen Mahr, I’ve found her to be a strong and capable leader, completely dedicated to the needs and success of every municipality in Union County.

 As  Vice Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee for the past five years, she's earned the right to take her seat at the head of the ...

Chatham Borough Police Chief Crosson has Retired; Captain Gibbons is Acting Commander

February 12, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - Phil Crosson Jr., who has been a member of the Chatham Borough Police Department since 1992, retired from his position as the police chief on Feb. 1.

"It came on pretty quickly," Crosson said when reached by phone on Sunday. "I was on vacation for six weeks and I bought a business. I came back for one day and retired."

According to Crosson, ...

‘Reefer Madness’ Comes to Chatham Borough Council; Cannabis Advocates Make Pitch for Chatham Marijuana Shop

February 14, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - A group of pro-cannabis activists came to the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night and used the public commentary portion of the meeting to ask the council to support a marijuana dispensary in town.

The advocates, who say they have attended more than 80 town meetings to inform about the benefits of medical cannabis, mentioned the 1936 movie "Reefer ...

Upcoming Events

Sun, February 18

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Carousel_image_ab8f5d9efb4317e5a445_hiawatha

Sun, February 18, 3:00 PM

Lawton C. Johnson Middle School , Summit

New Jersey Intergenerational Orchestra Free ...

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, February 18, 7:00 PM

Villagers Theatre, Somerset

Hairspray Auditions

Arts & Entertainment

Mon, February 19

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Mon, February 19, 7:00 PM

Villagers Theatre, Somerset

Hairspray Auditions

Arts & Entertainment

Tue, February 20

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Invest Like a Tortoise -- Not Like a Hare

Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare” is a perfect metaphor for the way people go about investing their money. As you recall in the fable, the hare brags about his ability to beat the tortoise and is overly confident about winning. In the investment world, the hare is someone who thinks he or she is great at selecting “winners” and avoiding “losers.” The ...