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.

A Reminder from the Appellate Division on RIFs and Tenured Employees

By on August 22, 2017 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On August 17, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued an unpublished opinion in which it upheld the Atlantic City Board of Education’s (“Board”) decision to change the employment of two supervisors from twelve-month positions to ten-month positions due to a reduction in force (“RIF”). This case highlights an important interplay between RIFs and tenure rights of public school employees. The Board employed Lourdes Vidal-Turner and C. Dedra Williams (“Petitioners”) as teachers for numerous years. The Board then promoted each of them to a twelve-month supervisory position in which they later acquired tenured. The State Appointed Fiscal Monitor for the […]

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Appellate Division Finds Willful and Deliberate Violation of OPRA

In recent months, the New Jersey courts have issued several decisions regarding a public entity’s obligations under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”). In case you missed them, check out our articles from June 20 and June 27 regarding recent OPRA cases. This week’s article will focus on Gordon v. City of Orange in which the New Jersey Appellate Division on June 23, 2017 reversed and remanded the Government Records Council’s (“GRC”) ruling that the City did not knowingly and willfully violate OPRA by failing to respond to a request for records seeking disability insurance payments made to the City […]

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N.J. Supreme Court Rules in OPRA Case Involving Email Logs

It’s not very often we hear from our State’s Supreme Court on cases involving the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”). On June 20, 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court in Paff v. Galloway Township expanded the scope of 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. In June 2013, John Paff made an OPRA request under N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq. to Galloway Township (“Township”) seeking fields of information from all emails sent by the Township Clerk and […]

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Counsel Fees Denied in OPRA Case for Mootness

On June 14, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Stop & Shop Supermarket Company v. Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders held that a requestor who makes a request for records under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) and receives such records prior to initiating formal litigation, even if the response is delayed, is not entitled to attorney’s fees because the issue is considered moot. Stop & Shop Supermarket (“Stop & Shop”) challenged the site plan application of Inserra Supermarkets, Inc. (“Inserra”) before the Bergen County Planning Board and Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders (the “Boards”). On July […]

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District Court Denies Parents’ Claims Against School Board Involving Nursing Issue

The parents of a disabled student brought claims against the Voorhees Township Board of Education (“Board”) alleging various violations, including violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), for failing to place a nurse onsite at the school building the student would have attended for his extended school year (“ESY”) program. On June 5, 2017, the District Court for the District of New Jersey in R.G. v. Hill, found no violations and affirmed the Administrative Law Judge’s decision dismissing the parents’ claims. Neither the student’s individualized education plan (“IEP”) nor his medical needs required a nurse to be physically […]

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BOE Unable to Withhold Pay of Teacher Who Collected Unemployment Benefits During Suspension

On May 18, 2017, the Commissioner of Education in Strassle v. Old Bridge Township Board of Education affirmed the decision of the Administrative Law Judge that tenured teacher Thomas Strassle was entitled to pay during his suspension even though he had collected unemployment benefits during the suspension. Strassle was a tenured teacher employed by the Old Bridge Township Board of Education (“Board”). In September 2015, the Board placed him on a paid suspension pending an investigation of his conduct pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:6-8.3. Thereafter, in April 2016, the Board certified tenure charges against Strassle and converted his suspension to an […]

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Appellate Division Upholds Findings of School Ethics Violations

By on May 24, 2017 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

On May 22, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Lowell v. Smallwood affirmed the Commissioner of Education’s decision that a board of education member violated various provisions of the School Ethics Act (“Act”) for her dealings with a potential candidate for superintendent. Specifically, the board member violated N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24.1(c) and (e) for acting beyond the scope of her authority and making personal promises. Felicia Simmons, Geneva Smallwood, and Corey Lowell were members of the Asbury Park Board of Education (“Board”). Lowell initiated a complaint with the School Ethics Commission (“SEC”) asserting that Simmons and Smallwood violated the Act. Lowell […]

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Appellate Division Approves Dual Send-Receive Relationship

By on May 9, 2017 in Students with 0 Comments

In an unpublished decision issued on May 4, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the final agency decision of the Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) approving the send-receive relationship between the Seaside Park Board of Education (“Seaside Park”) and the Lavallette Board of Education (“Lavallette”). The decision captioned In the Matter of the Petition for Authorization to Enter into a Sending-Receiving Relationship with the Board of Education of the Borough of Lavallette, Ocean County allows Seaside Park to send its students to Lavallette while maintaining its existing send-receive agreement with the Toms River Regional Schools Board of Education (“Toms River”). […]

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Attorney’s Fees Denied in OPRA Case for Failure to Cooperate

On April 24, 2017, the New Jersey Superior Court, Camden County, denied a plaintiff’s request for attorney’s fees under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) in the case Grieco v. Borough of Haddon Heights. The Court determined that the public entity inadvertently omitted a record in response to the plaintiff’s OPRA request and that she made no attempt to cooperate with the agency to acquire the missing document prior to initiating a formal lawsuit. Heather Grieco submitted an OPRA request to the Borough of Haddon Heights (“Borough”) seeking notices to newspapers for all council meetings from November 1, 2014 to April […]

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ALJ Finds Student Entitled to Section 504 Plan for Celiac Disease

By on April 25, 2017 in Special Education/504 with 1 Comment

On March 7, 2017, an Administrative Law Judge in K.I. o/b/o K.I. v. Moorestown Township Board of Education found that the Board violated Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by failing to offer a Section 504 plan to address the student’s celiac disease. The ALJ held that the Board failed to offer a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) under Section 504 when it offered an individualized healthcare plan (“IHP”) instead of a Section 504 plan to address the student’s medical condition. The student was in elementary school when she was first diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease in […]

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