A Capehart Scatchard Blog

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of Education and Justice issued a Dear Colleague Letter addressing the rights of transgender students and then rescinded it less than a year later in February 2017.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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Appellate Division Affirms School Calendar is Non-Negotiable

By on September 25, 2018 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On August 28, 2018, the New Jersey Appellate Division in West Morris Regional High School Board of Education v. Morris Regional Education Association, affirmed the Public Employment Relations Commission’s (“PERC”) determination that the start and end date of the school calendar is a non-negotiable managerial prerogative. The dispute involved the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) between the West Morris Regional High School Board of Education (“Board”) and the West Morris Education Association (“Association”). During their negotiations of a successor CBA, the Board sought to remove the following phrase from the CBA: “teachers…shall be employed from September 1 through June 30.” The […]

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PERC Restrains Two Districts from Demanding New Dues Authorizations from Union Members

By on September 11, 2018 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. The Public Employment Relations Commission (“PERC”) recently granted interim relief restraining two school districts from requiring that union members file new dues deduction authorizations. In Delanco Board of Education and Delanco Township Education Association (Docket No. CO-2019-043), school administrators informed the Association President that Board counsel advised that Janus v. AFSCME[1] required the Board to obtain written authorization from all employees in order to continue making membership dues deductions from unit employees’ compensation.  The Superintendent provided the Association President with a copy of a draft letter to the Association’s members requesting […]

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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 Other 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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