A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Governor Signs Law Expanding Voting Rights for Sending School Districts

By on July 25, 2017 in Legislation with 0 Comments

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. For years, sending school districts have felt left out of many important decisions made by the receiving districts to which they send their students and to which they pay tuition. That will no longer be the case under a new law signed by Governor Christie on July 21, 2017 (S. Res. 3191, 217th Leg., 2d Sess. (N.J. 2017)) which greatly expands the voting rights of sending districts. Representative of sending districts are no longer limited to voting on tuition, certain bill lists or contracts, new capital construction to be utilized by […]

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Appellate Division Finds Willful and Deliberate Violation of OPRA

In recent months, the New Jersey courts have issued several decisions regarding a public entity’s obligations under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”). In case you missed them, check out our articles from June 20 and June 27 regarding recent OPRA cases. This week’s article will focus on Gordon v. City of Orange in which the New Jersey Appellate Division on June 23, 2017 reversed and remanded the Government Records Council’s (“GRC”) ruling that the City did not knowingly and willfully violate OPRA by failing to respond to a request for records seeking disability insurance payments made to the City […]

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N.J. Supreme Court Rules in OPRA Case Involving Email Logs

It’s not very often we hear from our State’s Supreme Court on cases involving the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”). On June 20, 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court in Paff v. Galloway Township expanded the scope of OPRA to require public entities to produce information relating to the “sender,” “recipient,” “date,” and “subject” of emails even if that means the agency would need to create a new document. In June 2013, John Paff made an OPRA request under N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq. to Galloway Township (“Township”) seeking fields of information from all emails sent by the Township Clerk and […]

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Counsel Fees Denied in OPRA Case for Mootness

On June 14, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Stop & Shop Supermarket Company v. Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders held that a requestor who makes a request for records under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) and receives such records prior to initiating formal litigation, even if the response is delayed, is not entitled to attorney’s fees because the issue is considered moot. Stop & Shop Supermarket (“Stop & Shop”) challenged the site plan application of Inserra Supermarkets, Inc. (“Inserra”) before the Bergen County Planning Board and Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders (the “Boards”). On July […]

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District Court Denies Parents’ Claims Against School Board Involving Nursing Issue

The parents of a disabled student brought claims against the Voorhees Township Board of Education (“Board”) alleging various violations, including violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), for failing to place a nurse onsite at the school building the student would have attended for his extended school year (“ESY”) program. On June 5, 2017, the District Court for the District of New Jersey in R.G. v. Hill, found no violations and affirmed the Administrative Law Judge’s decision dismissing the parents’ claims. Neither the student’s individualized education plan (“IEP”) nor his medical needs required a nurse to be physically […]

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BOE Unable to Withhold Pay of Teacher Who Collected Unemployment Benefits During Suspension

On May 18, 2017, the Commissioner of Education in Strassle v. Old Bridge Township Board of Education affirmed the decision of the Administrative Law Judge that tenured teacher Thomas Strassle was entitled to pay during his suspension even though he had collected unemployment benefits during the suspension. Strassle was a tenured teacher employed by the Old Bridge Township Board of Education (“Board”). In September 2015, the Board placed him on a paid suspension pending an investigation of his conduct pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:6-8.3. Thereafter, in April 2016, the Board certified tenure charges against Strassle and converted his suspension to an […]

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Appellate Division Upholds Findings of School Ethics Violations

By on May 24, 2017 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

On May 22, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Lowell v. Smallwood affirmed the Commissioner of Education’s decision that a board of education member violated various provisions of the School Ethics Act (“Act”) for her dealings with a potential candidate for superintendent. Specifically, the board member violated N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24.1(c) and (e) for acting beyond the scope of her authority and making personal promises. Felicia Simmons, Geneva Smallwood, and Corey Lowell were members of the Asbury Park Board of Education (“Board”). Lowell initiated a complaint with the School Ethics Commission (“SEC”) asserting that Simmons and Smallwood violated the Act. Lowell […]

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Appellate Division Approves Dual Send-Receive Relationship

By on May 9, 2017 in Students with 0 Comments

In an unpublished decision issued on May 4, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the final agency decision of the Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) approving the send-receive relationship between the Seaside Park Board of Education (“Seaside Park”) and the Lavallette Board of Education (“Lavallette”). The decision captioned In the Matter of the Petition for Authorization to Enter into a Sending-Receiving Relationship with the Board of Education of the Borough of Lavallette, Ocean County allows Seaside Park to send its students to Lavallette while maintaining its existing send-receive agreement with the Toms River Regional Schools Board of Education (“Toms River”). […]

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School Districts Given More Flexibility in Compensating Superintendents

By on May 9, 2017 in Legislation with 0 Comments

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. School boards now have more flexibility in attracting and retaining qualified and experienced superintendents as a result of changes to N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-1.2, an accountability regulation affecting compensation, which were adopted on May 1, 2017. Here are some of the important changes to N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-1.2 made by the rule adoption with respect to superintendents. The salary brackets, which are based on student enrollment, have been reduced from six brackets to three with the following caps: $147,794 (enrollment of 749 or less); $169,689 (enrollment of 750 to 2,999); and $191,584 (enrollment greater […]

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Attorney’s Fees Denied in OPRA Case for Failure to Cooperate

On April 24, 2017, the New Jersey Superior Court, Camden County, denied a plaintiff’s request for attorney’s fees under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) in the case Grieco v. Borough of Haddon Heights. The Court determined that the public entity inadvertently omitted a record in response to the plaintiff’s OPRA request and that she made no attempt to cooperate with the agency to acquire the missing document prior to initiating a formal lawsuit. Heather Grieco submitted an OPRA request to the Borough of Haddon Heights (“Borough”) seeking notices to newspapers for all council meetings from November 1, 2014 to April […]

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