A Capehart Scatchard Blog

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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Paraprofessionals Not Entitled to Automatic Renewal of Employment

A non-tenured, public school teacher is entitled to written notice of non-renewal regarding his or her employment by May 15 each school year if the board of education or charter school wishes to no longer employ that teacher for the following school year. This type of notice also applies to paraprofessionals. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:27-11, a school district or charter school’s failure to provide this non-renewal notice to a non-tenured teaching staff member results in an automatic offer of employment to the teacher for the next school year – but does this right extend to paraprofessionals? The New Jersey Commissioner […]

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OPRA Does Not Require Public Entities to Create Records Not Already in Existence

In a published decision dated April 18, 2016, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Paff v. Galloway Township upheld a public entity’s denial of an Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) request for email logs, finding that OPRA creates no obligation on the public entity to create new records that do not already exist. Plaintiff submitted an OPRA request to Galloway Township (“Township”) for an itemized list showing the sender, recipient, date, and subject of all emails sent by the Township’s Clerk and Chief of Police for a certain time period. It is important to note that Plaintiff requested logs of the […]

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Upcoming Seminar: “Nuts and Bolts of Section 504 and Student Discipline”

On Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 2:00 p.m., Joseph Betley, Esq. and Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. will be presenting at the New Jersey Charter School Conference in Atlantic City.  Their presentation is entitled, “Nuts and Bolts of Section 504 and Student Discipline.” For more information, please click here.

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U.S. DOE and DOJ Issue Guidance Documents Addressing Rights of Transgender Students

By on May 16, 2016 in Students with 0 Comments

On May 13, 2016, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice (“Departments”) issued a joint Dear Colleague Letter (“Letter”) specifically advising that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”), which prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions and programs receiving Federal financial assistance, prohibits discrimination based on a student’s transgender status and/or gender identity. Dear Colleague Letter: Transgender Students (May 13, 2016). The Letter provides insight as to how the Departments analyze and evaluate whether school districts comply with Title IX with respect to transgender students. The Letter also references a guidance document prepared by the U.S. Department […]

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Request to Produce Student Records Not Available Through Due Process

Parents may initiate a due process petition on behalf of their child against a school district or charter school with the New Jersey Office of Special Education Programs (“OSEP”) for special education related claims arising under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) and N.J.A.C. 6A:14-1.1 et seq., which include disagreements regarding identification, reevaluation, classification, educational placement, the provision of a free appropriate public education, or disciplinary action. However, the right to initiate a due process hearing does not extend to a request to compel a school district to produce student records, according to a recent decision issued by Administrative […]

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