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.

U.S. DOE and DOJ Issue Guidance Documents Addressing Rights of Transgender Students

By on May 16, 2016 in Students with 0 Comments

On May 13, 2016, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice (“Departments”) issued a joint Dear Colleague Letter (“Letter”) specifically advising that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”), which prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions and programs receiving Federal financial assistance, prohibits discrimination based on a student’s transgender status and/or gender identity. Dear Colleague Letter: Transgender Students (May 13, 2016). The Letter provides insight as to how the Departments analyze and evaluate whether school districts comply with Title IX with respect to transgender students. The Letter also references a guidance document prepared by the U.S. Department […]

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Request to Produce Student Records Not Available Through Due Process

Parents may initiate a due process petition on behalf of their child against a school district or charter school with the New Jersey Office of Special Education Programs (“OSEP”) for special education related claims arising under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) and N.J.A.C. 6A:14-1.1 et seq., which include disagreements regarding identification, reevaluation, classification, educational placement, the provision of a free appropriate public education, or disciplinary action. However, the right to initiate a due process hearing does not extend to a request to compel a school district to produce student records, according to a recent decision issued by Administrative […]

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Appellate Division Affirms Board Member’s Eligibility to Serve on Board of Education

By on April 15, 2016 in Other with 0 Comments

On March 7, 2016, the Appellate Division in Stargell v. Snyder, 2016 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 485 (App. Div. 2016) affirmed the trial court’s determination that a board member of the Pennsauken Board of Education (“Board”), who assigned an outstanding claim against the Board for reimbursement of unused sick leave to her adult daughter, was not disqualified from serving on the Board. The Board employed Margaret Snyder as a school nurse for twenty-seven years. In March 2013, she provided notice of her retirement effective July 1, 2013. Snyder then made a request to the Board for compensation for unused sick […]

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Interviewing Candidates is Beyond the Authority of the Board

By on April 1, 2016 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

Many boards of education have personnel committees in which one or two board members, in a limited capacity, participate in the committee. May a board member be involved in the interview process of a candidate seeking employment with the board? The New Jersey School Ethics Commission (“Commission”) advises no. In Advisory Opinion A31-15 issued on January 26, 2016, the Commission determined that a board member would likely violate the New Jersey School Ethics Act (“Act”) if he involved himself in the interview process of potential candidates. The specific provisions of the Act which would be violated are N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24.1(c) and (d): […]

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Appellate Division Decides Arbitrability Issue Involving Former School District Employees

By on March 17, 2016 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

Collective negotiated agreements (“CNAs”) delineate the terms and conditions of employment for many, if not the majority, of board of education employees.  They often dictate an employee’s rights and privileges, hours, salary, benefits, procedures for the termination of employment, and grievance procedures for challenging a board’s interpretation or application of the CNA.  On February 2, 2016, the Appellate Division in Egg Harbor Township Board of Education v. Egg Harbor Township Education Association, 2016 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 205 (App. Div. 2016) addressed the issue of whether the Egg Harbor Township Board of Education’s (“Board”) actions resulting in the discontinuation of […]

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Parent Required to Reimburse School District for Failure to Establish Student’s Eligibility for Enrollment

By on March 1, 2016 in Students with 0 Comments

A child is eligible to enroll in a school district and receive a free public education if the parent or guardian of the child is domiciled within the district or the child is kept in the home of an-other person domiciled within the school district as an affidavit student pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:38-1(b)(1).  Domicile is established when the student spends the majority of his time at a residence located within the school district and intends to make that residence his permanent home.  Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:22-3.1(a)(1)(i), when the parents are separated and are domiciled in different school districts, the student’s […]

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Appellate Division Vacates Summary Judgment Decision and Issues Remand in Employment Discrimination Case

By on February 4, 2016 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

In an unpublished decision dated January 7, 2016, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Sheridan v. Egg Harbor Township Board of Education, 2016 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 10 (App. Div. 2016) vacated the trial court’s dismissal of a former employee’s discrimination complaint and remanded the matter for trial.  Plaintiff, a former custodian for the Egg Harbor Township Board of Education, alleged that the Board wrongfully terminated her on the basis of obesity in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and subjected her to a hostile work environment due to her floor supervisor’s repeated disparaging remarks about the custodian’s […]

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School District Granted Emergent Relief to Conduct Psychiatric Evaluation and Place Student in an Alternative Interim Setting

On November 23, 2015, Administrative Law Judge Caridad F. Rigo granted the Clifton Board of Education’s Request for Emergent Relief to complete a psychiatric evaluation of a special education student and to place her in an alternative interim educational setting due to escalating behaviors.  Clifton Bd. of Educ. v. K.M. o/b/o K.M., OAK Dkt. No. EDS 18260-15, Agency Dkt. No. 2016-23665, 2015 N.J. AGEN LEXIS 576 (Nov. 23, 2015).  K.M. was an eighth grade female student classified as emotionally disturbed eligible for behavior plans, counseling, among other interventions.  K.M. exhibited significant behavioral and discipline issues.  K.M. had been suspended from […]

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OPRA Does Not Authorize Anonymous Filings in Superior Court

By on December 11, 2015 in Open Public Records Act with 0 Comments

In a published decision dated September 17, 2015, the New Jersey Appellate Division in A.A. v. Gramiccioni, et al., 442 N.J. Super. 276 (2015) affirmed the trial court’s determination that, under the New Jersey Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”), an individual may not anonymously file a complaint in Superior Court.  OPRA governs the public’s access to government records in New Jersey. Public agencies, including school districts and charter schools, must comply with OPRA, which requires disclosure of a government record unless a specific exception applies. An individual who believes that a public agency improperly denied his or her OPRA request may […]

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IDEA Does Not Limit Compensatory Education Claims to Two Years

On September 22, 2015, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that will have widespread implications for New Jersey school districts in defending against claims brought by parents of special education students pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”).  The IDEA authorizes the courts to award compensatory education as remedy to a special education student who is successful in his or her claim that a public school district deprived the student of a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”).  For numerous years, school districts relied upon the two-year statute of limitations set forth in §1415(f)(3)(C) of the […]

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