A Capehart Scatchard Blog

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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Appellate Division Remands Case Involving Permanent Disqualification of Teacher

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:6-7.1, the Criminal History Review Unit (“CHRU”) of the New Jersey Department of Education (“NJDOE”) is authorized to permanently disqualify a public school employee from employment with any educational institution supervised by the NJDOE if that individual is convicted of certain New Jersey crimes or a substantially equivalent crime in another state. On June 29, 2016, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Kelly v. New Jersey Department of Education and Lawrence Township Board of Education, 2016 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1506 (App. Div. 2016), analyzed whether a teacher’s convictions in Pennsylvania for recklessly endangering another person and […]

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Court Upholds Withholding of Teacher’s Increment

By on June 21, 2016 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

Advancements on the salary guide and annual increments for teachers must be earned – they are not automatic. In a recent opinion issued on May 20, 2016, Administrative Law Judge Evelyn J. Marose affirmed the Jersey City Board of Education’s decision to withhold teacher John Baran’s salary increment for the 2013-2014 school year. In Baran v. Board of Education of the City of Jersey City, OAL Dkt. No. EDU 14772-14, 2016 N.J. AGEN LEXIS 351 (2016), ALJ Marose held that the decision to withhold Baran’s increment was consistent with the school laws and was not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable. Baran […]

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Paraprofessionals Not Entitled to Automatic Renewal of Employment

A non-tenured, public school teacher is entitled to written notice of non-renewal regarding his or her employment by May 15 each school year if the board of education or charter school wishes to no longer employ that teacher for the following school year. This type of notice also applies to paraprofessionals. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:27-11, a school district or charter school’s failure to provide this non-renewal notice to a non-tenured teaching staff member results in an automatic offer of employment to the teacher for the next school year – but does this right extend to paraprofessionals? The New Jersey Commissioner […]

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OPRA Does Not Require Public Entities to Create Records Not Already in Existence

In a published decision dated April 18, 2016, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Paff v. Galloway Township upheld a public entity’s denial of an Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) request for email logs, finding that OPRA creates no obligation on the public entity to create new records that do not already exist. Plaintiff submitted an OPRA request to Galloway Township (“Township”) for an itemized list showing the sender, recipient, date, and subject of all emails sent by the Township’s Clerk and Chief of Police for a certain time period. It is important to note that Plaintiff requested logs of the […]

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Upcoming Seminar: “Nuts and Bolts of Section 504 and Student Discipline”

On Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 2:00 p.m., Joseph Betley, Esq. and Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. will be presenting at the New Jersey Charter School Conference in Atlantic City.  Their presentation is entitled, “Nuts and Bolts of Section 504 and Student Discipline.” For more information, please click here.

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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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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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