A Capehart Scatchard Blog

N.J. District Court Affirms Dismissal of Parent’s Special Education Case as Time-Barred

By on February 25, 2020 in Special Education/504 with 0 Comments

In a case decided on February 11, 2020 by the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Camden Vicinage, the Eastampton School District (“District”) successfully dismissed a parent’s lawsuit brought under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) on the basis that it was filed beyond the two-year statute of limitations. In McLean v. Eastampton School District, the parent of a special education student initiated a due process petition in August 2018 against the District alleging that an individualized education program (“IEP”) developed by the District in June 2016 failed to provide the student with a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”).

The District successfully argued before the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) that the parent’s due process petition was time-barred because the parent filed it more than two years after the District proposed the June 2016 IEP. The ALJ found that the IDEA’s two-year statute of limitations began running on the date the parent “knew or should have known” of a FAPE violation. In this case, the parent warned the District as early as March 2016 that she believed the student was not receiving a FAPE and that she would be seeking tuition reimbursement. The parent also rejected the IEP in June 2016.

The parent appealed the ALJ’s decision to the District Court. In affirming the ALJ’s dismissal of the parent’s case, the District Court explained that the federal courts within the Third Circuit “have generally focused on clear action or inaction by a school district sufficient to alert a reasonable parent that the child would not be appropriately accommodated.” In the case at hand, the District Court determined that by June 2016, the parent knew that the District was not providing the educational services that the parent believed to be a FAPE. Therefore, the statute of limitations began to run in June 2016, and the parent’s filing of her lawsuit in August 2018 was time-barred – even if she was two months late.

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Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev

About the Author

About the Author:

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.

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