A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Use of OPRA Not Limited to Citizens of New Jersey

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. School districts sometimes receive requests for public records from a requestor in another state. Some of these requests come from data mining companies that seek to provide information about school district contracts and vendors to commercial entities. Fulfilling these requests can involve a considerable expenditure of time and effort by the records custodian. Trial court decisions addressing the question of whether an out-of-state requestor may make a valid request for records under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) have reached different conclusions. On May 16, 2018, in Scheeler v. Atlantic […]

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New Jersey Equal Pay Act Takes Effect July 1, 2018

By: Kelly E. Adler, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. If you are a New Jersey employer and you have never heard of the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act (“Equal Pay Act”), pay close attention. At the end of March 2018, the New Jersey Legislature sent the Equal Pay Act to the Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, for his signature.  Governor Murphy signed the bill into law on April 24, 2018.  The Equal Pay Act will go into effect on July 1, 2018. Why is this legislation such a big deal for New Jersey employers? This is sweeping legislation and is […]

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How Has the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act Affected the Litigation Environment?

By on April 17, 2018 in Students with 0 Comments

By: Cameron R. Morgan, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. It is almost hard to believe we are now in the seventh school year since the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act (“ABBRA”) took effect.  At the time of the statute’s passage on January 5, 2011, many speculated that the wave of investigations into harassment, intimidation, and bullying (“HIB”) that were soon to be conducted in high numbers in the early years of the statute’s implementation would also be accompanied by a large and continuous wave of HIB litigation.  Some even opined that the law would spawn a new […]

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Appellate Division Affirms Commissioner of Education’s Remand of HIB Case Involving Employee

By on April 10, 2018 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

A school district staff member was a teacher and former wrestling coach employed by the Hunterdon Central Regional School District Board of Education (“Board”). He was the subject of a harassment, intimidation, and bullying investigation (“HIB”) due to a complaint that during a wrestling camp he stated to a special education student, on two occasions, that he hoped the student did not have access to any weapons or keys to the gun closet. The school district determined that the teacher’s actions constituted HIB. As a result of a series of appeals, the New Jersey Appellate Division on March 1, 2018 […]

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What You Need to Know About OCR Complaints & Investigations – Part 2

By on April 3, 2018 in Other with 0 Comments

By: Lauren E. Tedesco, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. Last week we discussed the Office for Civil Rights’ (“OCR”) jurisdiction to enforce anti-discrimination laws in school districts, as well as the filing of complaints with the OCR and opening letters and data requests. Today, we will discuss best practices to responding to a data request, and discuss further investigation procedures, including interviews and letters of finding. Responding to a data request can be a time consuming process, as many times the OCR will ask for extensive information and documentation. Along with speaking to staff members involved, it is important […]

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What You Need to Know About OCR Complaints & Investigations – Part 1

By on March 27, 2018 in Other with 0 Comments

By: Lauren E. Tedesco, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. The Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) is the federal agency charged with enforcing anti-discrimination laws in programs or activities that receive federal financial aid from the United States Department of Education (“USDOE”). The OCR investigates alleged discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin pursuant to Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; sex discrimination pursuant to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; discrimination on the basis of disability pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and age discrimination pursuant to […]

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Commissioner of Education Rejects Settlement Agreement to Terminate Send-Receive Agreement

By on March 20, 2018 in Other with 0 Comments

It should be easy to end a send-receive relationship between two boards of education when they both agree to sever ties – right? Not so fast, says the New Jersey Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) in a decision issued on February 9, 2018 in Mine Hill Board of Education v. Dover Board of Education. The Commissioner rejected a settlement agreement reached between two boards of education to terminate a send-receive relationship for failing to follow the rules regarding termination. The Mine Hill Board of Education (“Mine Hill”) wanted to modify its send-receive relationship with the Dover Board of Education (“Board”) and […]

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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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Appellate Division Addresses Rights of Part-Time Teachers Under Tenure Act

By on March 6, 2018 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. Educational service commissions sometimes employ part-time teachers to work in public and non-public schools. The Sussex County Educational Services Commission (“Commission”) reduced the number of hours worked by part-time teachers but did not alter the hourly rate of pay. In Zimmerman et al. v. Sussex County Educational Services Commission two teachers challenged the action arguing that their tenure and seniority rights were violated. The Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) sided with the Commission by determining that the decrease in work hours did not reduce the teachers’ compensation or trigger their seniority rights […]

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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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