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 OPMA Does Not Require BOE to Discuss Proposed Employment Action Prior to Voting

On May 17, 2019, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Centrella v. Prospect Park Board of Education issued an unpublished decision confirming that, under the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”), a board of education is not required to discuss a proposed employment action prior to actually voting on that action. This case involved a former Prospect Park Board of Education (“Board”) employee’s appeal under the OPMA in which she alleged that the Board improperly eliminated her position of speech language specialist and terminated her tenured position when the Board did not discuss the proposed action at the same meeting in […]

Share

Continue Reading »

Appellate Division Rules Chapter 78 Does Not Preempt Terms of CNA

The Ridgefield Park Education Association (“Association”) filed an appeal with the New Jersey Appellate Division challenging a ruling by the Public Employment Relations Commission (“PERC”) in favor of the Ridgefield Park Board of Education (“Board”), which held that Chapter 78 preempted the terms of the parties’ collective negotiations agreement (“CNA”) for the period July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2018. On May 3, 2019, the Appellate Division reversed PERC’s determination in In the Matter of Ridgefield Park Board of Education and Ridgefield Park Education Association and remanded the matter to PERC to implement a remedial mechanism to refund the excess […]

Share

Continue Reading »

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 […]

Share

Continue Reading »

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 […]

Share

Continue Reading »

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 […]

Share

Continue Reading »

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 […]

Share

Continue Reading »

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 […]

Share

Continue Reading »

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 […]

Share

Continue Reading »

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 […]

Share

Continue Reading »

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 […]

Share

Continue Reading »

Top