A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Students

U.S. DOE and DOJ Rescind Guidance Documents Regarding Transgender Students

By on March 15, 2017 in Students with 0 Comments

On February 22, 2017, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice (“Departments”) released a Dear Colleague Letter, which rescinds the May 2016 federal guidance documents regarding the rights of transgender students. The May 2016 guidance documents offered clarification that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) prohibits discrimination based on a student’s transgender status and/or gender identity. These previously issued guidance documents explained that school districts cannot require transgender students to use restrooms or locker rooms inconsistent with their gender identity or require them to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so. The recent February 2017 Dear Colleague […]

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Commissioner of Education Finds Student Not Victim of HIB

By on January 9, 2017 in Students with 0 Comments

Most harassment, intimidation, and bullying (“HIB”) investigations arise from allegations by a student against another student. However, New Jersey school districts must also investigate HIB allegations by a student against a staff member. On December 21, 2016, in M.R. o/b/o M.R. v. Board of Education of the Ramapo Indian Hills Regional High School District, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s determination that a cheerleading coach’s conduct did not constitute HIB and did not violate the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act because the conduct was not based on any actual or perceived distinguishing characteristic. Student M.R. […]

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Commissioner of Education Finds Violation of Consent Requirements for Administering Student Surveys

By on November 15, 2016 in Students with 0 Comments

On October 24, 2016, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) decision that the Ocean Township Board of Education (“Board”) violated a state education statute which requires school districts to obtain informed written consent prior to administering a student survey. However, the Commissioner rejected the ALJ’s decision to impose a monetary penalty against the Board. In Green v. Board of Education of the Township of Ocean, the parents of sixth-graders successfully argued that the Board failed to obtain written informed consent in violation of N.J.S.A. 18A:36-34. Pursuant to the Board’s policy and practice at […]

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First Amendment Does Not Protect Student Speech That Amounts to HIB

By on November 1, 2016 in Students with 0 Comments

What is the connection between the First Amendment right to free speech and the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act? On October 20, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Dunkley v. Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145389 (2016) answered this precise question: a student’s First Amendment right to free speech is not protected when that speech amounts to harassment, intimidation, or bullying (“HIB”). In December 2013, high school senior Bryshawn Dunkley was suspended for two days for his out-of-school conduct in which he posted a video on YouTube […]

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N.J. Supreme Court Finds School District Not Liable for Failure to Notify Parent of Vision Tests Results

By on September 6, 2016 in Students with 1 Comment

The parents of a student, who developed a vision impairment, sued the Mullica Township Board of Education (“Board”) under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act (“TCA”) for the school nurse’s failure to inform them that the student failed a visual acuity test during the 2001-2002 school year. In 2004, the student again failed the test. At that time, the school nurse notified the parents of the results of both tests. On August 17, 2016, New Jersey Supreme Court in Parsons v. Mullica Township Board of Education, _N.J._(2016) ruled that the TCA immunized the Board, as a public entity, from liability because […]

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Student Loses Stay-Put When Moving to New School District

Stay-put is the last agreed upon placement for a special education student. According to a recent decision issued by the U.S. District Court of New Jersey in Cinnaminson Township Board of Education v. K.L., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104706 (D.N.J. Aug. 9, 2016), a student loses stay-put when he or she moves from one school district to another. During the 2013-2014 school year, special education student R.L. resided within the Berlin Borough Township Board of Education (“Berlin”). During that school year, R.L.’s parent filed for due process against Berlin regarding R.L.’s educational placement. Ultimately, on October 28, 2014, R.L.’s parent […]

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Personal Conflict Without Distinguishing Characteristic Not HIB

By on July 19, 2016 in Students with 0 Comments

School districts frequently grapple with determining whether a student’s conduct constitutes harassment, intimidation, or bullying (“HIB”) under the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act (“ABBR”). On June 22, 2016, the Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) in R.A. o/b/o B.A. v. Hamilton Township Board of Education affirmed the Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) decision that personal conflict not based on any distinguishing characteristic among students who were previously friends did not rise to the level of HIB. The alleged target was a middle school female student who claimed that her former friends bullied her over the course of two years. She alleged […]

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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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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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