A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Tag: Office of Administrative Law

Stay-Put Shake-up: Third Circuit Holds Parents Entitled to Attorneys’ Fees for Non-Compliance with Stay-Put

By on August 30, 2017 in Special Education/504 with 0 Comments

By: Cameron R. Morgan, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an important decision finding that parents in special education litigation with school districts will be considered “prevailing parties” entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees in the event the district ignores or fails to comply with its obligations under the “stay-put” provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”).  M.R. & J.R. ex. E.R. v. Ridley Sch. Dist., No. 16-2465, 117 L.R.P. 34473 (3d Cir. 2017).  On August 22, 2017, the Third Circuit issued its decision substantially altering the landscape of […]

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A Reminder from the Appellate Division on RIFs and Tenured Employees

By on August 22, 2017 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On August 17, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued an unpublished opinion in which it upheld the Atlantic City Board of Education’s (“Board”) decision to change the employment of two supervisors from twelve-month positions to ten-month positions due to a reduction in force (“RIF”). This case highlights an important interplay between RIFs and tenure rights of public school employees. The Board employed Lourdes Vidal-Turner and C. Dedra Williams (“Petitioners”) as teachers for numerous years. The Board then promoted each of them to a twelve-month supervisory position in which they later acquired tenured. The State Appointed Fiscal Monitor for the […]

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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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ALJ Finds Student Entitled to Section 504 Plan for Celiac Disease

By on April 25, 2017 in Special Education/504 with 1 Comment

On March 7, 2017, an Administrative Law Judge in K.I. o/b/o K.I. v. Moorestown Township Board of Education found that the Board violated Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by failing to offer a Section 504 plan to address the student’s celiac disease. The ALJ held that the Board failed to offer a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) under Section 504 when it offered an individualized healthcare plan (“IHP”) instead of a Section 504 plan to address the student’s medical condition. The student was in elementary school when she was first diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease in […]

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Commissioner of Education Finds Student Not Victim of HIB

By on January 9, 2017 in Students with 0 Comments

Most harassment, intimidation, and bullying (“HIB”) investigations arise from allegations by a student against another student. However, New Jersey school districts must also investigate HIB allegations by a student against a staff member. On December 21, 2016, in M.R. o/b/o M.R. v. Board of Education of the Ramapo Indian Hills Regional High School District, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s determination that a cheerleading coach’s conduct did not constitute HIB and did not violate the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act because the conduct was not based on any actual or perceived distinguishing characteristic. Student M.R. […]

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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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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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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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