A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev

Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev

Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. concentrates her practice on the representation of boards of education and charter schools in all areas of school law including: labor and employment, special education, Section 504, student discipline, FERPA, Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, student residency, civil rights, tenure, OPRA, and OPMA. In connection with these representations, she is experienced in handling matters before State and Federal courts, including the Office of Administrative Law. Ms. Dev is an experienced special education litigator and defends school districts in due process hearings from inception through trial. In addition, she has handled matters before governmental agencies, including the U.S. Office for Civil Rights and New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. Ms. Dev routinely conducts training and seminars, drafts policies and manuals, and provides strategic advice to school administrators regarding school law issues. Ms. Dev was recently recognized as one of South Jersey’s Awesome Attorneys as published by South Jersey Magazine. She is licensed to practice law in New Jersey, the District Court for the District of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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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Commissioner of Education Rejects Settlement Agreement to Terminate Send-Receive Agreement

By on March 20, 2018 in Other with 0 Comments

It should be easy to end a send-receive relationship between two boards of education when they both agree to sever ties – right? Not so fast, says the New Jersey Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) in a decision issued on February 9, 2018 in Mine Hill Board of Education v. Dover Board of Education. The Commissioner rejected a settlement agreement reached between two boards of education to terminate a send-receive relationship for failing to follow the rules regarding termination. The Mine Hill Board of Education (“Mine Hill”) wanted to modify its send-receive relationship with the Dover Board of Education (“Board”) and […]

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ALJ Grants IEE Due to District’s Failure to File for Due Process

The New Jersey regulations under N.J.A.C. 6A:14-2.5(c) address the rights of a parent of a special education student to an independent educational evaluation (“IEE”) at the school district’s expense. A decision issued by a New Jersey Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on January 9, 2018 in S.S. and M.S. o/b/o H.S. v. Hillsborough Township Public School District highlights the importance of complying with procedural requirements if a school district wishes to deny a parent’s request for an IEE. On June 6, 2017, the parents in this case requested an IEE performed at the Hillsborough Township Public School District’s (“District”) expense. The District notified […]

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Third Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Parents’ Complaint for Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies – Again

By on February 27, 2018 in Special Education/504 with 0 Comments

In the last year, our federal courts have addressed the exhaustion of administrative remedies requirement for parents who bring claims against a school district on behalf of a disabled student under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (“Section 504”). Notably, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in February 2017 in Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools that parents are required to exhaust administrative remedies under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) when the heart of their complaint alleges a denial of a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”). The Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which applies to New Jersey, recently applied the […]

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SEC Issues Advisory Opinion on Board Member Who is a Current Student

By on February 13, 2018 in Board Members with 0 Comments

In January, numerous individuals took the oath of office to officially begin their service as a school board member. Potential conflict of interest issues are never ending. On January 3, 2018, the New Jersey School Ethics Commission (“SEC”) issued Advisory Opinion 36-17 which addressed questions pertaining to a newly elected board of education member who is also a current student within the same school district. The individual in question is an eighteen year old, twelfth grade student currently enrolled in the school district. The individual also serves as the Senior Class President and is a member of the Principal’s Advisory […]

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Appellate Division Expands Right to Electronically Stored Information Under OPRA

By on January 23, 2018 in Open Public Records Act with 0 Comments

In June 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court in Paff v. Galloway Township expanded the scope of the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) to require public entities to produce information relating to the “sender,” “recipient,” “date,” and “subject” of emails even if that means the agency would need to create a new document. On January 12, 2018, the New Jersey Appellate Division continued to expand the right to electronically stored information under OPRA in the published decision Conley v. New Jersey Department of Corrections, Docket No. A-4754-14T3. The legal question before the Appellate Division in this case was whether data […]

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Legislature Revises Requirements for Use of Restraints on Disabled Students

Educational facilities, including public school districts, may use physical restraints to support students with disabilities experiencing significant behavioral difficulties. Such interventions must be implemented by trained personnel. On January 8, 2018, the New Jersey Legislature approved Senate Bill 1163, which updated the requirements for use of restraints on students with disabilities in school districts, educational services commissions, and approved private schools for students with disabilities. As a threshold matter, physical restraint is defined as the “use of a personal restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a student to move all or a portion of his or her body.” […]

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Appellate Division Finds Parent Liable for Tuition Payment to School District for Lack of Domicile

By on January 5, 2018 in Students with 0 Comments

On December 27, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the Commissioner of Education’s determination in T.L. o/b/o A.B. v. Union Township Board of Education that a parent and her child were not domiciled within the Union Township School District for two school years and therefore her child was not entitled to a free public education in that district. As a result, the parent was ordered to reimburse the Union Township Board of Education (“Board”) for the cost of the child’s education for that time period. The case involved parent T.L. and her child A.B. For the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 […]

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U.S. DOE Issues Q&A on Endrew F. Case

By on December 19, 2017 in Special Education/504 with 0 Comments

On March 22, 2017, the United States Supreme Court decided the case of Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District in which it revised the national standard for determining whether a special education student has received a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”). On December 7, 2017, the United States Department of Education (“DOE”) issued a Questions and Answers (“Q&A”) document on this important case. In short, the Endrew F. Court held, “To meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an [individualized education program] reasonably calculated to enable a child […]

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Appellate Division Limits Attorneys’ Fees in OPRA Case

By on December 12, 2017 in Open Public Records Act with 0 Comments

On November 27, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Kennedy v. Montclair Center Corporation Business Improvement District issued an unpublished decision in which it determined that the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) does not entitle a plaintiff to attorneys’ fees after the public agency satisfied his document request. Scott Kennedy made an OPRA request to the Montclair Center Corporation Business Improvement District (“Montclair Center”). Not having received an adequate response, Kennedy filed suit against the Montclair Center alleging that it had no OPRA custodian, had no OPRA request form, and charged excessive copying costs in violation of OPRA. After […]

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