A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Special Education/504

Parents Not Entitled to IEE at Public Expense Due to Minor Flaws in Reevaluation

By on October 10, 2018 in Special Education/504 with 0 Comments

In the realm of New Jersey special education, it is not a rare occurrence for parents to request an independent educational evaluation (“IEE”) of a special education student at public expense in response to an evaluation of the student conducted by the child study team.  Each year, New Jersey school districts are faced with hundreds of requests for IEEs at public expense.  The vast majority of these are granted voluntarily by the district, sometimes on the basis of a cost-benefit assessment that has little to do with whether the evaluation was appropriately conducted or whether the IEE will shed any […]

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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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ALJ Grants IEE Due to District’s Failure to File for Due Process

The New Jersey regulations under N.J.A.C. 6A:14-2.5(c) address the rights of a parent of a special education student to an independent educational evaluation (“IEE”) at the school district’s expense. A decision issued by a New Jersey Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on January 9, 2018 in S.S. and M.S. o/b/o H.S. v. Hillsborough Township Public School District highlights the importance of complying with procedural requirements if a school district wishes to deny a parent’s request for an IEE. On June 6, 2017, the parents in this case requested an IEE performed at the Hillsborough Township Public School District’s (“District”) expense. The District notified […]

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Third Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Parents’ Complaint for Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies – Again

By on February 27, 2018 in Special Education/504 with 0 Comments

In the last year, our federal courts have addressed the exhaustion of administrative remedies requirement for parents who bring claims against a school district on behalf of a disabled student under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (“Section 504”). Notably, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in February 2017 in Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools that parents are required to exhaust administrative remedies under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) when the heart of their complaint alleges a denial of a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”). The Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which applies to New Jersey, recently applied the […]

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Proactive Representation Part II: Proving a Case for Emergent Relief on Behalf of a School District

By on February 6, 2018 in Special Education/504 with 0 Comments

By: Cameron R. Morgan, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. In last week’s segment, we discussed the importance of filing for due process and seeking emergent relief on behalf of a school district when the parents of a child receiving special education and related services take action, or refused to take action, in a way that prevents the district from fulfilling its legal obligation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) to provide the child with his or her right to a free and appropriate public education (“FAPE”). Today, we discuss the mechanics of doing so and highlight the […]

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Proactive Representation Part I: Knowing When to File for Due Process or Seek Emergent Relief on Behalf of a School District

By on January 30, 2018 in Special Education/504 with 0 Comments

By: Cameron R. Morgan, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. In the increasingly litigious world of special education, New Jersey school districts and Board attorneys are generally accustomed to being on the receiving end of lawsuits with parents. Yet, understanding how and under what circumstances to file for due process or seek emergent relief can be just as important to ensuring your district is legally compliant as defending a due process petition filed by a parent. Special education practitioners representing districts that are facing uncooperative parents would do well to remember one thing: when parents place the child study team […]

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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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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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Parent’s Untimely Notice Does Not Automatically Bar Tuition Reimbursement Claim

By on December 5, 2017 in Special Education/504 with 0 Comments

By: Cameron R. Morgan, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. One of the most common scenarios giving rise to special education litigation is a due process petition filed by parents against their school district in order to seek tuition reimbursement for the costs of a private school, after the parents have unilaterally placed the child in the out-of-district placement.  Bringing a motion to reduce or deny tuition reimbursement, if it can be shown that the parents failed to timely provide the notice, has traditionally been one of the simplest and most effective defenses a school district can assert in defending […]

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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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