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.

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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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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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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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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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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