A Capehart Scatchard Blog

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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First Amendment Does Not Protect Student Speech That Amounts to HIB

By on November 1, 2016 in Students with 0 Comments

What is the connection between the First Amendment right to free speech and the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act? On October 20, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Dunkley v. Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145389 (2016) answered this precise question: a student’s First Amendment right to free speech is not protected when that speech amounts to harassment, intimidation, or bullying (“HIB”). In December 2013, high school senior Bryshawn Dunkley was suspended for two days for his out-of-school conduct in which he posted a video on YouTube […]

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Commissioner of Education Rules that Rights of Tenured Part-Time Teachers Not Violated

By on October 18, 2016 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

Petitioners Beryl Zimmerman and Judy Comment were employed by the Sussex County Educational Services Commission (“Sussex County”) as tenured part-time teachers for numerous years. For the 2014-2015 school year, Sussex County reduced Petitioners’ weekly assigned hours of work from their 2013-2014 school year levels. Petitioners filed a Petition of Appeal claiming that Sussex County violated their tenure and seniority rights when their compensation was effectively reduced. On October 4, 2016, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education affirmed the Administrative Law Judge’s decision that this action did not violate Petitioners’ rights in Zimmerman v. Sussex County Educational Services Commission, OAL Dkt. […]

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Out-of-District Placement Not Required to Utilize Aides Preferred by Sending District

By on October 5, 2016 in Special Education/504 with 1 Comment

In Trenton Board of Education v. Mercer County Special Services School District, OAL DKT. NO. EDU 16465-15, AGENCY DKT. NO. 306-10/15 (Sept. 20, 2016), the Trenton Board of Education (“Trenton”) sought to supply individual aides through a contracted vendor for its special education students who are placed out-of-district at the Mercer County Special Services School District (“Special Services”), rather than rely on Special Services to hire and provide the aides. Trenton believed it could provide the aides at a less expensive rate than Special Services. However, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education, who affirmed the Administrative Law Judge’s decision, rejected […]

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Third Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Parents’ Complaint for Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies

By on September 21, 2016 in Special Education/504 with 0 Comments

Parents who bring claims on behalf of a disabled student under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (“IDEA”) against a school district are first required to follow the administrative process. In New Jersey, IDEA claims must first be filed with the State’s Office of Special Education Programs, and then the case is transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law for a due process hearing and disposition. A parent who disagrees with the Administrative Law Judge’s decision may then file an appeal in federal court. Are parents required to exhaust this same administrative process when they allege violations under Section 504 of the […]

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N.J. Supreme Court Finds School District Not Liable for Failure to Notify Parent of Vision Tests Results

By on September 6, 2016 in Students with 0 Comments

The parents of a student, who developed a vision impairment, sued the Mullica Township Board of Education (“Board”) under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act (“TCA”) for the school nurse’s failure to inform them that the student failed a visual acuity test during the 2001-2002 school year. In 2004, the student again failed the test. At that time, the school nurse notified the parents of the results of both tests. On August 17, 2016, New Jersey Supreme Court in Parsons v. Mullica Township Board of Education, _N.J._(2016) ruled that the TCA immunized the Board, as a public entity, from liability because […]

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Student Loses Stay-Put When Moving to New School District

Stay-put is the last agreed upon placement for a special education student. According to a recent decision issued by the U.S. District Court of New Jersey in Cinnaminson Township Board of Education v. K.L., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104706 (D.N.J. Aug. 9, 2016), a student loses stay-put when he or she moves from one school district to another. During the 2013-2014 school year, special education student R.L. resided within the Berlin Borough Township Board of Education (“Berlin”). During that school year, R.L.’s parent filed for due process against Berlin regarding R.L.’s educational placement. Ultimately, on October 28, 2014, R.L.’s parent […]

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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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