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EDGAR D. NELSON v. TUSCARORA INTERMEDIATE UNIT NO. 11 (03/16/83)

decided: March 16, 1983.

EDGAR D. NELSON, TRADING AND DOING BUSINESS AS NELSON HOUSE, APPELLANT,
v.
TUSCARORA INTERMEDIATE UNIT NO. 11, APPELLEE



No. 81-3-426, Appeal from the Order of the Commonwealth Court at No. 51 C.D., dated March 16, 1981, affirming the Order of the Common Pleas Court of Huntingdon County, at No. 60 September Term, 1975

COUNSEL

Bayard M. Graf, Philadelphia, for appellant.

John R. Miller, Bellefonte, for appellee.

O'Brien, C.j., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott and Hutchinson, JJ. O'Brien, former C.j., did not participate in the decision of this matter.

Author: Mcdermott

[ 500 Pa. Page 460]

OPINION

This is an appeal from the order of the Commonwealth Court,*fn1 which affirmed the decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Huntingdon County,*fn2 granting appellee a judgment of $1,687.09 plus interests and costs as against appellant for the educational costs for school year 1973-1974 incurred by a mentally retarded minor who temporarily resided at appellant's private care facility. The issue is whether the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by Act of Assembly*fn3 may require a private Pennsylvania institution to pay the cost of education in public school of a mentally retarded child residing in such Pennsylvania institution, where the parents of the child are residents of the State of New Jersey.*fn4

The facts of this case are undisputed and as follows: the handicapped child was born on June 11, 1959 of parents who have at all times relevant resided in New Jersey. On June 26, 1972, this lad was transferred by his parents from the Lochland School in Geneva, New York to Nelson House, located in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. At this time, the child did not move to New Jersey because a residential facility could not be found there that was suitable to his needs. The trial court determined that this youth was a trainable mentally-retarded child suffering from limitations of immature behavior and lack of self-control.

Appellant, Nelson House, is a private institution, licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, providing residential care for mentally retarded children. Appellant

[ 500 Pa. Page 461]

    orally agreed with the child's parents to provide the boy with residential support at a cost of $600.00 per month from June of 1972 through the 1975-1976 school year. Appellant, as a private institution, has received no funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the State of New Jersey for this child's maintenance or education.

Appellee, Tuscarora Intermediate Unit No. 11, pursuant to the Public School Code,*fn5 enrolled this child in its program for trainable mentally retarded students for the 1973-1974 school year, and billed appellant Nelson House $1,687.09 for the tuition for this period. Appellee did not seek to recover the cost of the child's education from his parents. Appellee received federal funding throughout the 1973-1974 school year when this child was enrolled at Tuscarora Unit No. 11.

In July 1975, appellee brought an action in assumpsit against Nelson House, seeking to recover the cost of the child's education. Nelson House now seeks reversal of that ...


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