PLAISTOW — Transitioning from one school district to another can be a difficult process for special needs students and their parents.
One such family recently reached out to Timberlane Regional School District Superintendent Earl Metzler to see whether there was a way their children could continue to receive special needs services within the Timberlane district.
District policy states that the students can remain in the district if tuition is paid, according to Metzler. The superintendent said the parents understood the policy, but asked Metzler to approach the regional School Board to see whether there was any way the students could remain in the district without taking on the full brunt of the costs.
Metzler said the costs associated with educating one special needs student total about $25,000 per year.
He said the parents did what all good parents would do by trying to get the best education for their children.
“That transition can be very difficult going to a new school,” said Metzler. “I showed them our policy, and they obviously don’t live in the district, but they asked that I bring it forward (to the School Board) for consideration or some direction.”
Board member Michael Mascola asked whether the parents were looking to have their children finish out the school year or if they wanted them to stay in the district indefinitely.
Metzler said he discussed several options with the parents, including paying the tuition to remain in the district for the full year or helping them transition to the new district after the holiday break.
Metzler also noted that the parents could work with an advocate to see whether the new district provides similar special education services. If it does not, Metzler said there is the possibility of having the new district pay the tuition costs for the students to remain in the Timberlane district.
“I know that this is an easy one when you don’t know the family and don’t know the students, but it’s not really that easy,” said Metzler. “They are going to have a very difficult transition to their new district, there is no doubt about that.”
School Board Chairman Robert Collins said he supported having the administration work with the family over the next several weeks to help them ease into the transition. If the family is not satisfied with the services provided in the new district, Collins said they could get an advocate to lobby the new district to cover the tuition costs in the Timberlane district.