A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Special Education Settlement Subject to 6-Year Statute of Limitations

When boards of education resolve disputes with parents of special education students, they often enter into settlement agreements with the parents which are approved by an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) of the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”). On February 27, 2019, the New Jersey Appellate Division in L.A. v. South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education issued a decision affirming that parties to a settlement agreement approved by the OAL are subject to a six-year statute of limitations to enforce that agreement. In 2000, the parent of a special education student initiated litigation against the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education (“Board”) seeking reimbursement […]

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Contract Rescission Does Not Avoid Need for Public Notice and Hearing

By on March 15, 2019 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

Statutes are to be read sensibly rather than literally. This was the message sent by the New Jersey Appellate Division on March 14, 2019 in Wall Township Education Association v. Board of Education of the Wall Township School District when it reversed the Commissioner of Education’s decision and held that a superintendent and school district may not avoid the requirements for public comment and public hearing under N.J.S.A. 18A:11-11 simply by rescinding an existing superintendent employment contract. The Superintendent had a contract which was to expire on June 30, 2019. After new salary caps were put in place, the Superintendent and […]

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District Court Denies Parents’ Request for IEE

Parents of special education students have the right to request an independent educational evaluation (“IEE”) at the expense of the school district if they disagree with any assessment conducted as part of an initial evaluation or a reevaluation conducted by the school district. However, that right is not unfettered. On January 31, 2019, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey in S.S. and M.S., o/b/o H.S. v. Hillsborough Township Public School District overturned an Administrative Law Judge’s decision and determined (1) parents are only entitled to an IEE at the district’s expense when they disagree with an evaluation or reevaluation […]

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Appellate Division Upholds Arbitrator’s Decision to Limit Increment Withholding

By on February 11, 2019 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On January 28, 2019, the Appellate Division affirmed an arbitrator’s decision to limit the withholding of a teacher’s increment to one year. In Trenton Board of Education v. Trenton Education Association, the Trenton Board of Education (“Board”) approved the withholding of a teacher’s increment for an indefinite period of time. The Trenton Education Association (“Association”) challenged that decision. During the 2015-2016 school year, the Board employed Carmel Gabriel as a middle school teacher. The principal, who was Gabriel’s direct supervisor, and vice principal cited him for various deficiencies, such as problems with his teaching practices, failure to attend mandatory meetings, and […]

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Appellate Division Rules Teacher Not Entitled to Tenure in Extracurricular Assignment

By on January 2, 2019 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On December 17, 2018, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Melnyk v. Board of Education of the Delsea Regional High School District upheld the Commissioner of Education’s decision that a teacher who already has attained tenure based upon his or her years of service in a particular position cannot also acquire separate tenure in an extracurricular assignment if the teacher is not required to possess a different certificate other than the one he or she already possesses in the tenured position and the teacher receives a stipend for the additional assignment that is not an integral part of the teacher’s […]

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Districts Ordered to Pay Increments Upon Expiration of Contract

By on December 10, 2018 in Labor & Employment, Other with 0 Comments

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. The question of whether a school district with a collective bargaining agreement of less than five years in duration is required to pay the increment for teaching staff members at the expiration of the agreement has existed since the amendment of N.J.S.A. 18:29-4.1.  The amendment permits school districts to adopt a salary policy schedule for a period of up to five years. In In the Matter of Englewood Board of Education and Englewood Teachers’ Association (decided October 29, 2018) and In the Matter of Cliffside Park Board of Education and […]

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Commissioner of Education Rules Bedside Tutor Position Not Eligible for Tenure Accrual

By on December 3, 2018 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On November 9, 2018, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) concurred with an Administrative Law Judge’s finding in Mirda v. Board of Education of the Union County Educational Services Commission that the position of Bedside Tutor fell within the substitute teacher exception and is not eligible for tenure accrual. The Union County Educational Services Commission Board of Education (“Commission”) provides various services to school districts in Union County, including one-to-one bedside instruction at hospitals to students enrolled in Union County schools. Bedside Tutors are paid at an hourly rate, do not receive benefits or paid holidays, and are not guaranteed a […]

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Union Endorsement of BOE Candidate Not an Automatic Conflict

By on October 16, 2018 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

An individual served as a board of education member for an initial term. During his candidacy for reelection, the local education association and statewide education association decided to endorse the individual. The individual was reelected. Is this a conflict of interest and a violation of the School Ethics Act? Not necessarily, said the School Ethics Commission (“SEC”) in Advisory Opinion A10-18 issued on June 26, 2018. The local education association (“LEA”) offered financial support to the individual, which he did not accept. On its own accord, the New Jersey Education Association (“NJEA”) circulated printed material endorsing the individual’s candidacy. The […]

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Parents Not Entitled to IEE at Public Expense Due to Minor Flaws in Reevaluation

By on October 10, 2018 in Special Education/504 with 0 Comments

In the realm of New Jersey special education, it is not a rare occurrence for parents to request an independent educational evaluation (“IEE”) of a special education student at public expense in response to an evaluation of the student conducted by the child study team.  Each year, New Jersey school districts are faced with hundreds of requests for IEEs at public expense.  The vast majority of these are granted voluntarily by the district, sometimes on the basis of a cost-benefit assessment that has little to do with whether the evaluation was appropriately conducted or whether the IEE will shed any […]

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NJDOE Issues Guidance Regarding Transgender Students

By on October 1, 2018 in Students with 0 Comments

You may recall that in May 2016, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice issued a Dear Colleague Letter addressing the rights of transgender students and then rescinded it less than a year later in February 2017. The New Jersey Department of Education (“NJDOE”) took matters into its own hands and issued a guidance document to school districts regarding transgender students on September 27, 2018. The purpose of the guidance document is to assist in creating an inclusive environment for transgender and gender nonconforming students and to ensure that these students receive equal educational opportunities. The NJDOE advises that a school district […]

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