A Capehart Scatchard Blog

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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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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