A Capehart Scatchard Blog

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 Law Judge John S. Kennedy on March 21, 2016 in D.O. o/b/o M.O. v. Jackson Township Board of Education, 2016 N.J. AGEN LEXIS 137 (2016).

In this case, the Jackson Township Board of Education (“Board”) successfully dismissed the case on the basis that the parent maintained no legal right to request copies of D.O.’s educational records through a due process petition. Judge Kennedy rejected the parent’s argument that the IDEA guarantees the right of access to student records, determining that none of the provisions of the IDEA or the New Jersey regulations provide for this right. The parent unsuccessfully argued that he is entitled to raise this student records issue via due process because there is currently a disagreement between the parties regarding the student’s special education placement. Judge Kennedy rejected this argument, explaining that the placement, a separate distinct issue, was not before him in the current due process petition filed by the parent.

Although the parent’s due process petition was dismissed, Judge Kennedy did not address whether the parent is completely barred from initiating a formal complaint demanding that the school district produce copies of the requested student records. That is, the parent could file a separate petition with the New Jersey Bureau of Controversies and Disputes (“BCD”) seeking this relief. School districts should be aware of whether the claims alleged by a parent can be raised in a due process petition initiated with OSEP or a petition with BCD, as each of these venues adhere to different procedures, timelines, and standards.

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Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev

About the Author

About the Author:

Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. concentrates her practice on the representation of boards of education and charter schools in all areas of school law including: labor and employment, special education, Section 504, student discipline, FERPA, Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, student residency, civil rights, tenure, OPRA, and OPMA. In connection with these representations, she is experienced in handling matters before State and Federal courts, including the Office of Administrative Law. Ms. Dev is an experienced special education litigator and defends school districts in due process hearings from inception through trial. In addition, she has handled matters before governmental agencies, including the U.S. Office for Civil Rights and New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. Ms. Dev routinely conducts training and seminars, drafts policies and manuals, and provides strategic advice to school administrators regarding school law issues. Ms. Dev was recently recognized as one of South Jersey’s Awesome Attorneys as published by South Jersey Magazine. She is licensed to practice law in New Jersey, the District Court for the District of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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