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.

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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NJSIAA Revises Transgender Policy

By on November 28, 2017 in Students with 0 Comments

On November 15, 2017, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (“NJSIAA”) announced changes to its policy affecting transgender student athletes. Under the new policy, the NJSIAA simply defines a transgender student as a student whose gender identity differs from the student’s sex assigned at birth. The new policy allows transgender students to participate in sports in accordance with either their birth sex or their gender identity, but not both. The old policy required documented proof of a change in gender identity, such as a physician’s certification. In contrast, the revised policy does not require medical consultation. A school may […]

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Appellate Division Overturns GRC in OPRA Case Involving Release of Settlement Agreement

By on November 21, 2017 in Open Public Records Act with 0 Comments

On November 15, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued an unpublished decision in Scheeler v. Galloway Township regarding an Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) request seeking a settlement agreement between Galloway Township (“Galloway”) and its former manager. In short, the Appellate Division found that the document in question constituted a final settlement agreement subject to disclosure under OPRA contrary to the position of Galloway. On November 12, 2014, Galloway adopted a resolution in public session authorizing the settlement of the litigation between it and the former manager. Specifically, the resolution stated that Galloway’s agreement to settle was subject to […]

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Third Circuit Holds Parents Entitled to Attorneys’ Fees on IDEA Procedural Issue

By on November 14, 2017 in Special Education/504 with 0 Comments

Special education cases can be quite expensive for school districts to litigate. This is especially so when parents are prevailing parties and the fee-shifting provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) requires the school district to reimburse the parents for attorneys’ fees. Typically, parents are only entitled to attorneys’ fees if they are successful on the underlying merits of the case, not when they succeed on procedural or interlocutory issues. However, on October 11, 2017, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in H.E. v. Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School held that parents can recover attorneys’ […]

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Commissioner of Education Upholds Violations of School Ethics Act

By on October 10, 2017 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

On September 11, 2017, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) affirmed six decisions by the New Jersey School Ethics Commission (“SEC”) that various board of education members violated the School Ethics Act for failing to timely complete school board member training. These board members received penalties ranging from suspensions to reprimands. N.J.S.A. 18A:12-33 of the School Ethics Act requires, in relevant part, the following for members of a board of education or charter school board of trustees: (a) Each newly elected or appointed board member shall complete during the first year of the member’s first term a training program…regarding […]

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