A Capehart Scatchard Blog

To Rice or Not to Rice? A Lesson from the Appellate Division

By on February 15, 2017 in Open Public Meetings Act with 0 Comments

In a published decision released on February 8, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued an important ruling regarding a public entity’s obligations regarding Rice notices provided to its employees. In Kean Federation of Teachers v. Board of Trustees of Kean University, the Appellate Division determined that a public body is required to provide a Rice notice to any employee whose name appears on the agenda regarding his or her employment, regardless of whether the public body intends to discuss that individual’s employment. Specifically, the Appellate Division held that “a public body is required to send out a Rice notice […]

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Appellate Division Rules in Favor of Public Entities in Two OPRA Cases Involving Redactions

By on January 24, 2017 in Open Public Records Act with 0 Comments

On January 13 and 19, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued two unpublished decisions in the favor of public entities regarding redactions made to documents disclosed pursuant to the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”). These cases clarify what information may be redacted from government records when released under OPRA. Public agencies, including school districts and charter schools, must comply with OPRA, which requires disclosure of a government record unless a specific exception applies. An individual who believes that a public agency improperly denied his or her OPRA request may challenge that determination by filing a complaint in Superior Court […]

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Upcoming Seminar: “Guide to Special Education Law for Attorneys & Educators”

On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. will be presenting at the Camden County Bar Association’s three-part seminar entitled “Guide to Special Education Law for Attorneys & Educators.” Ms. Dev will be speaking about individualized education plans (“IEPs”) and strategies for successful IEP meetings. The seminar will be held at the Tavistock Country Club in Haddonfield, New Jersey. For additional information and registration, please click here.

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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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Board of Education Required to Pay Back $3.8M to Teachers’ Pension Fund

By on December 27, 2016 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On December 22, 2016, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Middletown Township Board of Education v. Division of Pensions and Benefits affirmed the Board of Trustees of the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund’s determination that the Middletown Township Board of Education offered an unauthorized early retirement incentive to its employees. The decision requires the Board to pay back approximately $3.8 million to the teachers’ pension fund. In October 2007, the Middletown Township Board of Education (“Board”) approved a Sidebar Agreement with the Middletown Township Education Association (“Association”) modifying the collective bargaining agreement between the Board and the Association. The Sidebar […]

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Unilaterally Reducing Teachers’ Hours During Economic Crisis Prohibited

By on December 13, 2016 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On November 29, 2016, the New Jersey Supreme Court In the Matter of Robbinsville Township Board of Education v. Washington Township Education Association ruled that boards of education must negotiate employees’ work hours and cannot unilaterally reduce those hours even in times of economic crisis. The collective negotiation agreement between the Robbinsville Township Board of Education (“Board”) and the Washington Township Education Association (“Association”) stated that teachers’ salaries would be based on 188 days for new teachers and 185 days for all other teachers. In 2010, a series of events caused a significant reduction in the Board’s funding. As a […]

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Non-Renewal Provision in Superintendent’s Contract Voided

By on December 13, 2016 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On December 1, 2016, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s determination to invalidate a non-renewal provision contained in a Superintendent’s contract. In Richardson v. Gangadin and Jersey City Education Association v. Jersey City Board of Education, the Commissioner found that a board of education and a Superintendent may not alter the statutory requirements governing the renewal of a Superintendent’s contract. N.J.S.A. 18A:17-20.1 provides, in part, that a Superintendent will be automatically reappointed or renewed unless the board of education affirmatively provides timely notice.  Such notice must be 30 days for each year in the […]

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School Ethics Act Violated Regarding Disclosure Statements

By on November 29, 2016 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

In November 2016, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) upheld three decisions by the School Ethics Commission that various board members violated the School Ethics Act for failing to timely file their Personal/Relative and Financial Disclosure statements. N.J.S.A. 18A:12-25 and 26 require school board and charter school board members to annually file with the School Ethics Commission disclosure statements regarding their employment, financial interests, and sources of income. Moreover, these provisions of the School Ethics Act mandate that board members also disclose similar information regarding their relatives. Financial disclosure statements must be filed on or before April 30 of […]

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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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Upcoming Seminar: “IEPs and 504 Plans: A Legal Compliance Guide”

On Friday, December 2, 2016, Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. will be presenting at the National Business Institute’s two-day seminar entitled “IEPs and 504 Plans: A Legal Compliance Guide.” Ms. Dev will be speaking about handling IEP and 504 plan disputes, as well as legal best practices for 504 plan reviews and reevaluations. The seminar will be held at the Holiday Inn in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. For additional information and registration, please click here.

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