C.P., et. al. v. N.J. Dept. of Education (45-Day Class Action)
The Problem. New Jersey’s system for resolving disputes between parents and schools regarding students’ special education needs has been broken for many years.
Federal and state laws require these disputes to be resolved within 75 days—30 days for parents and school officials to try to resolve a dispute, followed by 45 days for a hearing to take place presided over by a special judge trained to resolve these kinds of disputes.
But in New Jersey, final decisions are issued (on average) nine months to a year after the hearing was requested. In some cases, final decisions can take three or four years to be issued.
Our Involvement. John Rue & Associates has been aware of this problem for a long time and has been working toward a solution. Many of the firm’s clients have had to wait months or years for decisions about special education services for their children.
Recently, JR&A filed a class action lawsuit in New Jersey federal court against the New Jersey Department of Education regarding this problem.
JR&A is at the forefront of that lawsuit, leading a group of six firms (who have all agreed that JR&A should be as the law firm leading the case).
The initial complaint was filed in May 2019. An amended complaint was filed in October 2019.
Since then, a motion for class certification and two motions for preliminary injunctions have been filed. All three are currently being considered by the judge in the case, Judge Noel Hillman.
Additionally, in January 2020, the NJDOE released “proposed guidelines” which are intended to govern special education due process hearings in the OAL. Acting for the proposed class, JR&A filed a motion to enjoin implementation of these guidelines, because they violate the due process rights of parents, and violate the express terms of governing statutes and regulations.
You can find all of the documents from the court docket at the All Filings link below.
Next up. On May 22, 2020, Judge Hillman (DNJ) made a substantial and substantive decision in the class action in favor of parents by denying the state's motion to dismiss (the detailed opinion can be found under Decisions). The case will proceed with discovery.