A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Boards of Education Prohibited from Discussing Tenure Charges During Public Session

By on January 21, 2021 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On January 21, 2021, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued a published decision in Simadiris v. Paterson Public School District in which it decided whether a board of education’s decision to certify tenure charges against an employee during private session violated that employee’s right to request such consideration in public. In short, the Appellate Division agreed with the school district and ruled that a board of education was prohibited from discussing the tenure charges during public session. Tenure charges were brought against an employee of the Paterson Board of Education (“Board”). The employee’s attorney received notice two days before a […]

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When “The Easy Way Out” Isn’t So Easy – Beware of Litigation from Non-Tenured Teachers Who Are Non-Renewed

By on January 18, 2021 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

As a practitioner who has spent most of his legal career as a school board attorney serving as general or labor counsel to boards of education, I address a trend that seems to be on the rise – litigation brought for employment discrimination in the wake of a non-tenured teacher being non-renewed at the conclusion of the teacher’s annual employment contract. In the world of school law, a “non-renewal” is distinct from a “termination,” “discharge,” or “firing” in both the legal and practical sense.  The latter tend to occur upon notice, and, in the public school context, almost always with […]

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Ban Parents from School Campuses Only as Last Resort

By on December 29, 2020 in Students with 0 Comments

Lauren E. Tedesco-Dallas, Esq., a shareholder in the firm’s School Law Group, was recently interviewed by Special Ed Connection on the topic of banning parents from school campuses. To view the PDF version of the article, please click here.

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Attorney’s Fees Not Available Under OPMA

By on December 16, 2020 in Open Public Meetings Act with 0 Comments

Plaintiff John Paff filed a lawsuit in the Law Division of the New Jersey Superior Court against the Trenton Board of Education (“Board”) alleging, in part, that the Board violated the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”) and the New Jersey Civil Rights Act (“NJCRA”) because the Board did not reference the payment of a merit bonus to the Superintendent on its agenda for a public meeting. Plaintiff argued that if he prevailed on this issue, he would be entitled to attorney’s fees under OPMA. While the Superior Court found that the Board violated OPMA by failing to provide the public […]

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Executive Order 204 Imposes Additional Restrictions on School Sports

By on December 2, 2020 in Legislation with 0 Comments

On November 30, 2020, Governor Philip Murphy signed Executive Order 204, which imposes additional restrictions on how New Jersey school districts conduct sports during the COVID-19 pandemic. As it applies to school districts, Executive Order 204: Prohibits indoor sports (including practices and games); and Limits outdoor sports to 25 people. However, players, coaches, and referees necessary for the practice/game are not counted toward the total 25. These restrictions begin on December 5, 2020 and end on January 2, 2021, unless otherwise revoked or modified by the Governor. The Governor may decide to continue the restrictions or modify them based on […]

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Executive Order 196 Exempts School Board Meetings from Capacity Limitations

By on November 17, 2020 in Legislation with 0 Comments

On November 16, 2020, Governor Philip Murphy signed Executive Order 196 related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  A significant aspect of the Order is that legislative proceedings of school boards are expressly excluded from the capacity limits on gatherings in EO196 or any other applicable Executive Order.  Previously, it was unclear whether the legislative proceedings exemption to the capacity requirements applied to boards of education.  The Order clarifies that the exemption does apply.  Caution is urged because other requirements related to social distancing and mask wearing continue to apply and will have the effect of limiting capacity at board meetings.  The Order […]

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Appellate Division Affirms Electronic Voting by BOE

On October 30, 2020, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Schwartz v. Princeton Board of Education issued an unpublished decision affirming that a board of education may utilize an electronic voting system so long as all of the other requirements of the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”) are met. In other words, electronic voting by board of education members is not a per se violation of OPMA. Plaintiffs, members of the public, filed a lawsuit against the Princeton Board of Education (“Board”) alleging that its vote on a specific agenda item at its June 12, 2018 public meeting violated OPMA. […]

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Regulations Impose Vast Obligations on Public Bodies Conducting Remote Meetings

On September 24, 2020, the Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Government Services (“DLGS”) issued Local Finance Notice 2020-21 to further explain the new emergency regulations for remote public meetings held during a declared emergency.  The emergency regulations were promulgated by the Director of DLGS in accordance with Section 8 of newly enacted L. 2020, c. 34, and are codified as N.J.A.C. 5:39-1.1. through 1.7.  The emergency regulations aim to ensure continuity of government operations and transparency in conducting public business when an emergency requires a governing body, subject to the Open Public Meetings Act, to hold meetings remotely.  […]

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Passage of Chapter 79 Makes Subcontracting More Cumbersome

By on October 15, 2020 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

Passage of Chapter 79 places new restrictions on a school district’s ability to subcontract work performed by its existing employees.  Chapter 79, which was approved on September 11, 2020 and became effective immediately, prohibits a school district from entering into a subcontracting agreement affecting the employment of any employees in a collective bargaining unit during the term of an existing collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”). A district may enter into a subcontracting agreement for a period following the term of the current CBA if the district: provides written notice to the majority representative of employees in each collective bargaining unit which […]

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Second Circuit Holds FBAs Are Not “Evaluations” for Purposes of Special Ed Parents’ Independent Evaluation Requests

By on October 13, 2020 in Special Education/504 with 0 Comments

In a precedential opinion sure to make waves in the special education community, on September 17, 2020, in D.S. v. Trumbull Board of Education, 120 L.R.P. 133 (2d Cir. 2020), the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that functional behavioral assessments (“FBAs”) of special education students conducted by a public school district are not “evaluations” capable of triggering a parent’s right to request an independent educational evaluation (“IEE”) from the district by an outside evaluator, at public expense.  The case puts front and center an issue of first impression that has rarely been addressed in the district courts of the […]

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