A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Resolution Survives Despite Absence of Advance Public Notice

By on August 14, 2018 in Open Public Meetings Act with 0 Comments

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. Public bodies have flexibility when an action item presents itself at a meeting where the public was not given advance notice of the matter provided the body is not deceiving the public or intentionally omitting an item it knew would be acted upon. In Jeffrey S. Feld, Esq. v. City of Orange Township et al., the plaintiff alleged that the City of Orange Township violated the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”) by passing a resolution settling outstanding water and sewer bills. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the City failed to […]

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Attorney’s Fees Relevant to Ten-Day Offers in IDEA Cases

A major concern for school districts in special education cases is the potential for parents to recover attorney’s fees if they are considered prevailing parties under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”). School districts may limit exposure by extending a “ten-day offer” in which it makes an offer of settlement to the parents at least ten days before an administrative due process hearing. If the parent rejects the ten-day offer, the parent may only recover attorney’s fees for work done after the time of the offer if (1) the hearing leads to more favorable relief than the offer included, […]

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N.J. Supreme Court Reverses Blanket Rice Notice Requirement for Personnel Actions at Public Meetings

By: Cameron R. Morgan, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. On June 21, 2018, the New Jersey Supreme Court has reversed an Appellate Division ruling that many felt had overly burdened public bodies in the administration of their duties and gone beyond the requirements of the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 to -21 (“OPMA”).  Kean Fed’n of Teachers v. Morell, ___ N.J. ___, No. A-84-16 (2018).  Under the seminal decision in Rice v. Union County Reg’l High Sch. Bd. of Educ., 155 N.J. Super. 64, 73 (App. Div. 1977), public bodies seeking to invoke the OPMA exception allowing them […]

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Individual Prohibited from Simultaneously Serving on Two Boards of Education

By on June 12, 2018 in Board Members with 0 Comments

In November 2013, Jeffrey Fischer was elected to the Manchester Regional High School Board of Education (“Manchester Board”) for a three-year term expiring in January 2017. He was also elected to the Haledon Board of Education (“Haledon Board”) in November 2015 for a three-year term commencing in January 2016. The Haledon Board serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade and then sends its students to the Manchester Regional School District for high school. On May 30, 2018, the Appellate Division in Fischer v. State of New Jersey confirmed that an individual is prohibited from serving on two boards of education […]

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N.J. Supreme Court Rules on OPRA’s Privacy Provision

On May 23, 2018, the New Jersey Supreme Court in Brennan v. Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, issued an important decision regarding the Open Public Records Act’s (“OPRA”) privacy provisions. Often times, school districts and other public entities deny OPRA requests on the basis that they are protecting the privacy of others. In these situations, the Court clarified that the public entity must first show that disclosure of the records would invade a “person’s reasonable expectation of privacy” before advancing any privacy arguments to withhold the documents. This case involved Plaintiff’s OPRA request to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office (“BCPO”) seeking […]

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Use of OPRA Not Limited to Citizens of New Jersey

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. School districts sometimes receive requests for public records from a requestor in another state. Some of these requests come from data mining companies that seek to provide information about school district contracts and vendors to commercial entities. Fulfilling these requests can involve a considerable expenditure of time and effort by the records custodian. Trial court decisions addressing the question of whether an out-of-state requestor may make a valid request for records under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) have reached different conclusions. On May 16, 2018, in Scheeler v. Atlantic […]

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New Jersey Equal Pay Act Takes Effect July 1, 2018

By on May 8, 2018 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

By: Kelly E. Adler, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. If you are a New Jersey employer and you have never heard of the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act (“Equal Pay Act”), pay close attention. At the end of March 2018, the New Jersey Legislature sent the Equal Pay Act to the Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, for his signature.  Governor Murphy signed the bill into law on April 24, 2018.  The Equal Pay Act will go into effect on July 1, 2018. Why is this legislation such a big deal for New Jersey employers? This is sweeping legislation and is […]

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How Has the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act Affected the Litigation Environment?

By on April 17, 2018 in Other with 0 Comments

By: Cameron R. Morgan, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. It is almost hard to believe we are now in the seventh school year since the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act (“ABBRA”) took effect.  At the time of the statute’s passage on January 5, 2011, many speculated that the wave of investigations into harassment, intimidation, and bullying (“HIB”) that were soon to be conducted in high numbers in the early years of the statute’s implementation would also be accompanied by a large and continuous wave of HIB litigation.  Some even opined that the law would spawn a new […]

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Appellate Division Affirms Commissioner of Education’s Remand of HIB Case Involving Employee

By on April 10, 2018 in Other with 0 Comments

A school district staff member was a teacher and former wrestling coach employed by the Hunterdon Central Regional School District Board of Education (“Board”). He was the subject of a harassment, intimidation, and bullying investigation (“HIB”) due to a complaint that during a wrestling camp he stated to a special education student, on two occasions, that he hoped the student did not have access to any weapons or keys to the gun closet. The school district determined that the teacher’s actions constituted HIB. As a result of a series of appeals, the New Jersey Appellate Division on March 1, 2018 […]

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What You Need to Know About OCR Complaints & Investigations – Part 2

By on April 3, 2018 in Other with 0 Comments

By: Lauren E. Tedesco, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. Last week we discussed the Office for Civil Rights’ (“OCR”) jurisdiction to enforce anti-discrimination laws in school districts, as well as the filing of complaints with the OCR and opening letters and data requests. Today, we will discuss best practices to responding to a data request, and discuss further investigation procedures, including interviews and letters of finding. Responding to a data request can be a time consuming process, as many times the OCR will ask for extensive information and documentation. Along with speaking to staff members involved, it is important […]

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