D.O., INDIVIDUALLY, AND ON BEHALF OF M.O., ETC. VS. JACKSON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF EDUCATION (L-1738-16, OCEAN COUNTY AND STATEWIDE)

D

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION This opinion shall not "constitute precedent or be binding upon any court ." Although it is posted on the internet, this opinion is binding only on the parties in the case and its use in other cases is limited. R. 1:36-3. SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION DOCKET NO. A-3783-19 D.O., individually, and on behalf of M.O., a minor child, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. JACKSON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant-Respondent. _________________________ Argued May 3, 2021 – Decided July 19, 2021 Before Judges Sabatino, Currier and DeAlmeida. On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Ocean County, Docket No. L-1738-16. John Rue argued the cause for appellant (John Rue & Associates, LLC, attorneys; John Rue, Donald A. Soutar, and Kenneth R. Walk, on the briefs). Katherine A. Gilfillan argued the cause for respondent (Schenck, Price, Smith & King, LLP, attorneys; Katherine A. Gilfillan, of counsel and on the brief; John D. McCarthy, on the brief). PER CURIAM This matter arose as a dispute over efforts by a parent, appellant D.O., to obtain from respondent, Jackson Township Board of Education ("the District" or "defendant"), certain public school records concerning her disabled son, M.O. The parent requested the records in 2015, and from August 2015 through March 2016 the District provided a series of records to her. The District certified it turned over all of the then-existing records, but the parent disagrees. She contends that some records are missing and surmises that other communications must have been documented and were not supplied. Through administrative processes, the parent obtained from the District certain substantive educational services for her son. Nonetheless, she pursued litigation against the District in the Law Division, contending she was entitled to what is described as a "due process" hearing under 20 U.S.C. § 1415(f) concerning the sought-after alleged additional records. The Law Division rejected her claims, concluding that the applicable laws do not provide a right to such a stand-alone due process hearing in which the dispute solely concerns the turnover of school records. This appeal ensued. For the reasons explained in this opinion, we affirm the trial court's dismissal of the parent's lawsuit. As a threshold matter, this records case appears A-3783-19 2 to be moot, given the trial court's finding that the District supplied the parent with all of the requested records in its files. Even assuming the case is not moot, or that an exception to the mootness limitation is warranted, we are unpersuaded that appellant has a right to a stand- alone due process hearing where there is no related substantive dispute pending about a deprivation of educational services. Among other things, we reject appellant's argument that dicta within footnote 6 of the Supreme Court's majority opinion in Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, 580 U.S. ___, 137 S. Ct. 743, 754 n.6 (2017), entitles her to such a due process hearing in this stand-alone setting. Appellant's remaining arguments likewise lack merit. I. We need …

Original document

Add comment

By

Recent Posts

Recent Comments