Posts tagged with "child"

Special Education Law – Relevant Terms

Within the realm of Special Education Law there are several relative terms one should be familiar with. Below are some of these key terms.

Applied Behavior Analysis (“ABA”):

An intensive, structured teaching program in which behaviors to be taught are broken down into simple elements. Each element is taught using repeated trials where the child is presented with a stimulus; correct responses and behaviors are rewarded with positive reinforcement, while when incorrect responses occur, they are ignored and appropriate responses are prompted and rewarded. Continue Reading

My Child Has Been Moved Out-of-State and May Be Suffering from Abuse, What Should I Do?

If you believe that your child is the victim of abuse you should contact the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the authorities immediately to report the abuse.  If your child is no longer living in Connecticut DCF may not be able to assist because they are a Connecticut resource.  It would be beneficial to contact a similar resource in whatever state your child is currently residing in.

Further, if your child has been moved out of Connecticut, their residency has been affected.  Jurisdiction will depend on where your child is currently residing.  Regardless of where your child has been relocated to, your divorce decree will still be valid in Connecticut and should be recognized in every state.  You may need to register your Connecticut divorce decree in the new state as an out-of-state judgment in order to have it enforced.

This is a complex issue as you are now possibly dealing with court systems in two different states.  A family attorney will be able to educate you on your rights and options in this situation.  If you have any questions related to family law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Can I Get a Restraining Order on My Soon-to-Be Ex-Husband in Connecticut?

In Connecticut, the relief from abuse statute requires a specific threat of violence or an actual act of violence in order to grant a restraining or protective order.  If a wife feels threatened by her husband’s actions, or visa-versa, this will probably not warrant the granting of relief from abuse.  Telephone threats are actionable if a specific threat to safety is made.  In this situation, it would be smart to sit down with a family attorney to review the communications and make an educated decision as to your next step.

If you have any questions related to family law in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Decision Suggests Educational Support Orders May Not Be Applied Retroactively

A case decided by the Connecticut Appellate Court, suggests Educational Support orders entered pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-56c may not be entered retroactively.  In Kleinman v. Chapnick, 131 Conn. App. 812 (2011), the parties had two children who were over the age of eighteen and enrolled as full-time college students.  During the divorce proceedings, the parties’ older daughter was a senior and their younger daughter was a freshman.  In February 2010, after the parties entered into a final agreement on custody and visitation, a two day trial ensued regarding financial issues.

As part of its decision, the Court ordered the husband to pay 100 percent of the statutory expenses for the education of the parties’ younger daughter beginning with the 2010-2011 school year.  As the Court did not enter an order with respect to the 2009-2010 school year, the wife filed a Motion to Clarify, Correct and/or Reargue.  The Court subsequently heard the wife’s motion, but declined to change its position.

On appeal, the Connecticut Appellate Court found that the husband made voluntary payments for the 2009-2010 school year that exceeded his statutory obligation under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-56c.  More importantly, however, the Court held that Section 46b-56c contains no language authorizing retroactive application, pointing out that various provisions contained within the statute suggest that it is intended to apply prospectively only.  In a footnote, the Court further explained that child support orders cannot be retroactive, and an order for post-majority educational support is in fact an order for child support for college education.

Should you have any questions regarding educational support in the context of divorce proceedings, please feel free to contact Attorney Michael D. DeMeola.  He practices out of the firm’s Westport office and can be reached by telephone at (203) 221-3100 or email at mdemeola@maylaw.com.

Court Considers Economy in Relocation Case

When a custodial parent would like to relocate, and that relocation would have a significant impact on an existing parenting plan, the moving party must show that the relocation is for a legitimate purpose, the proposed location is reasonable in light of that purpose, and the relocation is in the best interests of the child(ren). C.G.S. Sec. 46b-56d(a). Further, the court should consider, but is not limited to, the following factors: a) each parent’s reasons for seeking or opposing the move; b) the quality of the relationship between the child and the custodial and noncustodial parents; c) the impact of the move on the quantity and quality of the child’s future contact with the noncustodial parent; d) the degree to which the custodial parent’s and child’s life may be enhanced economically, emotionally and educationally by the move; and e) the feasibility of preserving the relationship between the noncustodial parent and child  through suitable visitation arrangements. C.G.S. Sec. 46b-56d(a).

In light of the current state of our economy, it appears as though judges may be assigning greater weight to parties’ economic circumstances, recognizing that it is becoming increasingly  necessary for parties to move considerable distances to obtain (or retain) employment.  Just recently, the Superior Court of New Haven (Gould, J.) permitted a mother to relocate with the parties’ three minor children from Connecticut to Pennsylvania on the basis that, among other things, the move would allow her to transition back into the work force, which the mother claimed would be necessary for her to adequately support her children, and herself.

After considering the statutory criteria set forth above, the Court explained,  “Our society is an increasingly mobile one.  Largely because of the instability and unpredictability of the employment market . . . repeated, separate moves by each parent are coming to represent the norm.” (internal quotations omitted)  J. Wallerstein & T. Tanke [‘To Move or Not to Move: Psychological and Legal Considerations in the Relocation of Children Following Divorce,’ 30 Fam. L.Q. 305, 310 (1996)].   The Court continued, “Our family law should recognize that reality. Therefore, to serve the best interests of a child in a single-parent family unit, the custodial parent should be permitted to pursue, within reasonable limits, opportunities that could lead to a better life for the parent as well as the child.” (internal citations omitted).

Should you have any questions regarding this posting, please feel free to contact Maya Murphy, P.C. at JMaya@mayalaw.com or by telephone at (203) 221-3100.

How to File a Personal Injury Claim Against a School in Connecticut

If you have a personal injury claim against a school, a school employee, or a similar
government entity or employee, you probably already know that it’s more complicated
than just suing a private homeowner for a slip-and-fall. But what makes it so
complicated, and what is the process?

Schools and their employees are often immune from liability for actions they undertake
within the course and scope of their duties. That immunity is not unlimited, however,
and particularly where a child’s injury is caused by gross negligence, malice, or
wantonness, you can be compensated with monetary damages. CGS § 4-141, et seq.
But, before you take your case to court, your case must be reviewed by the
Commissioner of Claims. Depending on the value of your case, the Commissioner of
Claims will review your case, and may conduct a fact finding investigation, including
witness interviews, document inspections, and other types of inquiries. The parties may
engage in discovery in some cases, and the Attorney General may also be permitted to
file a dispositive motion that asks the Commissioner to decide the issues in the case
just on the known facts and law, but without a full hearing or trial. Once the
Commissioner of Claims’ investigation (if applicable) is complete, s/he may issue a
decision, or if there are unresolved legal issues, they may authorize you to file suit in
court.

Navigating an administrative process with an administrative authority requires expert
guidance. Small mistakes such as misunderstanding a statute or missing a deadline
can impact or even eliminate your ability to seek relief. If you have a personal injury
claim against a school, school employee, or a similar government entity, the attorneys
at Maya Murphy, P.C. can assist you. Managing Partner Joseph C. Maya may be
reached directly by telephone at (203) 221-3100, ext. 110 or by email
at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

The above is not intended to constitute legal advice, and you should consult with an
attorney as soon as possible if you believe you have this, or any other type of claim.

Identifying Acts of School Bullying

October is the National Anti-Bullying month, yet the issue of bullying in schools remains headline news on a routine basis. Just today, I read about an incident where “two girls beat [the victim’s] head into the wall and floor when the teacher was out of the room,” causing “permanent hearing loss in her right ear.”[1] Worse still are the stories where the victim took his or her own life as an escape from the daily torment inflicted by bullies.

Without a doubt, parents are scared for the safety of their children. In her on-the-air speech addressing an email she received from a viewer critical of her weight, Jennifer Livingston of WKBT News 8 in Wisconsin admitted that “as the mother of three young girls [the growing prevalence of school bullying] scares me to death.”[2] Ms. Livingston further emphasized, “The internet has become a weapon. Our schools have become a battleground.”[3] Therefore, it is imperative that you, as a parent, are able to recognize acts of bullying and report incidents to your child’s school. The former is the focus of this article.

Recognizing Bullying Behaviors

Under Connecticut law for over a year now, bullying is defined as “the repeated use of a written, oral or electronic communication or physical act by one or more students directed at another student within the same school district which:

  1. Physically or emotionally harms the student or damages that student’s property;
  2. Places such student in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself, or of damage to his or her property;
  3. Creates a hostile school environment for the student;
  4. Infringes on that student’s rights at school; or
  5. Substantially disrupts the educational process or the orderly operation of the school.”[4]

Bullying on the basis of the following actual or perceived traits also qualifies: race or color; religion; ancestry; national origin; gender; sexual orientation; gender identity or expression; socioeconomic status; academic status; physical appearance; and mental, physical, developmental, or sensory disabilities.[5]

The Connecticut legislature has also taken aim at cyber-bullying, defined as “any act of bullying through the use of Internet, interactive and digital technologies, cellular mobile telephone or other mobile electronic devices or any electronic communications.”[6] Various forms of communication fall within this broad definition, including Facebook posts and messages, emails, text messages, live webcam sessions meant to ridicule or humiliate another student.

Notwithstanding these statutory definitions, you should review your child’s student handbook or school website to determine how your school district defines bullying. If neither source provides the policy, you should ask your school for a copy; this request must be fulfilled immediately.[7]

If you are the parent of a child who has been bullied or harassed at school, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced and knowledgeable school law practitioner. The lawyers at Maya Murphy, P.C., assist clients in Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, and Westport. If you have any questions regarding bullying or any other education law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.


[1] “Two girls accused of beating, bullying student taken into custody,” by WDRB News. October 16, 2012: http://www.wdrb.com/story/19835044/two-girls?hpt=ju_bn4

[2] “Star brother Ron Livingston defends ‘fat’ anchor sister, Jennifer,” by News Limited Network. October 5, 2012: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity/tv-anchor-jennifer-livingston-takes-on-bully-who-criticised-her-weight/story-e6frfmqi-1226488835303

[3] Id.

[4] 2011 Conn. Pub. Acts 11-232, § 1(a)(1).

[5] Id.

[6] Id. at § 1(a)(2).

[7] “Bullying and Harassment in Connecticut: A Guide for Parents and Guardians,” by the Connecticut State Department of Education, on pp.5. http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/equity/title_ix/bullying_q_and_a.pdf

What is Special Education, and Is My Child Eligible For Such Services?

The State Board of Education believes each student is unique and needs an educational environment that provides for, and accommodates, his or her strengths and areas of needed improvement. The Board also believes that a unified and coordinated continuum of educational opportunities and supports serves and benefits all students. – Excerpted from the State Board of Education’s “Position Statement on the Education of Students with Disabilities”

Every parent who has the best interests of their child at heart would most likely agree with the above statement. Making sure your child receives the best K-12 education they can is certainly the goal. However, this may appear less attainable to parents who are uncertain about the future of their disabled child, or who don’t even realize that their child has special needs.

Under Connecticut law, which mirrors federal statutes, “special education” is specifically designed instruction tailored to meet the individualized needs of a child identified as having a disability.[1] “A child who is eligible for special education services is entitled by federal law to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE)… [which] ensures that all students with disabilities receive an appropriate public education at no cost to the family.”[2] FAPE is an “unqualified right” that a school district cannot thwart or undermine due to the accompanying expenses.

However, determining whether your child is eligible may seem intimidating, but the process is more straightforward than you would expect. As a baseline, your child must be between ages 3 and 21, and “Connecticut school districts are obligated to provide special education and related services to children five years of age or older until the earlier of either high school graduation or the end of the school year in which your child turns twenty-one years of age.”[3] Related services include “transportation, and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services… as may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education” (except for surgically implanted medical devices).[4]

Next, you must establish that your child has one or more of the enumerated classes of disabilities, as found directly in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act:[5]

  • Autism
  • Hearing impairments (including deafness)
  • Mental retardation
  • Orthopedic impairments
  • Serious emotional disturbance
  • Specific  learning disabilities
  • Speech or language impairments
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Visual impairments (including blindness)
  • Other health impairments – this includes “limited strength, vitality or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems such as lead poisoning, asthma, attention deficit disorder, diabetes, a heart condition, hemophilia, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette Syndrome”[6]

If your child is of the proper age and has one of these disabilities, you must next determine whether or not his or her educational performance is adversely affected. If the answer is yes, “a special education program must be developed to meet their unique educational needs.”[7] This is known as an Individual Education Program, or IEP, which will be the subject of an upcoming post.

If you are a parent with a child that has a disability, it is important that you meet with school officials to create an IEP that maximizes your child’s educational opportunities. Should you have any questions about special education or education law in general, it may prove beneficial to seek the counsel of an experienced school law practitioner. Please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.


[1] Connecticut General Statutes § 10-76a(4).

[2] “A Parent’s Guide to Special Education in Connecticut,” by the Connecticut State Department of Education. 2007. Accessed October 5, 2012: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/PDF/DEPS/Special/Parents_Guide_SE.pdf

[3] “Advocating on Your Child’s Behalf: A Parent’s Guide to Connecticut School Law,” by Joseph C. Maya, Esq., at pp.8-9.

[4] Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, § 602(26).

[5] Id. at § 602(3)(A)(i).

[6] See Footnote 2.

[7] See Footnote 3.

On the Use of Metal Detectors at Public Schools

On July 21, 2012, 15-year-old Keijahnae Robinson was sitting on her aunt’s front porch with friends after attending a Sweet Sixteen birthday party. She was looking forward to her own celebration, which was a week away. Unfortunately, she became the thirteenth homicide in Bridgeport this year after two gunmen “sprayed the… porch she was on, striking her in the head and wounding her two friends.”[1] The family’s planned beach party for Keijahnae “became hushed preparations for her funeral and burial.”[2] While Keijahnae’s murder prompted widespread discussion regarding juvenile curfews in the city,[3] one response that has received less attention was the decision by the Bridgeport Board of Education to install metal detectors and “implement other provisions” at several schools, with the aim of avoiding future tragedies.[4]

What prompts any given school district to utilize metal detectors varies, though it unsurprisingly it is almost always linked to acts of violence on or off school grounds. For example, personnel in Hartford public schools use handheld metal detectors “[i]n view of the escalating presence of weapons in America’s schools today.”[5] The shooting suicide of a 13-year-old student at Stillwater Junior High School (in Oklahoma) late last month has administration admitting, “The metal detector question is something we’ll talk about pretty quickly.”[6] In Bridgeport, it was the off-campus shooting death of a young girl aspiring to be the next Mariah Carey.[7]

Public opinion of the use of metal detectors in schools is naturally divided. Bridgeport parents and students were “very grateful that the school has undertaken these extra measures of security.”[8] Others question the effectiveness of detecting weapons,[9] cite insufficient data to decide either way,[10] or argue safety isn’t the real issue.[11]

However, what is of greatest import to schools is the legality of metal detector use, which at this point in time is on their side. The Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) appears to have provided its endorsement, noting that Fourth Amendment restrictions on searches and seizures still apply. As one member of CABE stated, “A school needs justifiable reasoning for implementing them such as a pattern of weapons.”[12] Courts will uphold the employment of metal detectors by school districts as a means to screen students for contraband or weapons that pose a risk of harm to the student body. Deemed a minimally intrusive search, “[t]he courts have allowed schools to use this method in order to ensure weapons are excluded from the school environment.”[13]

Students do not fully surrender their constitutional protections while at school, and as such it is important, as a parent, to understand and appreciate your child’s rights. If you believe that your child was subject to an impermissible search by school officials, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced school law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding school searches or other education law matters, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.


[1] “Bridgeport girl, shot after Sweet 16 party, dies,” by Stacy Davis and Michael P. Mayko. Published July 21, 2012. Accessed October 5, 2012: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Bridgeport-girl-shot-after-Sweet-16-party-dies-3725251.php

[2] Id.

[3] See, e.g., “Relatives of shooting victim call for curfew,” by Stacy Davis. Published July 24, 2012. Accessed October 5, 2012: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Relatives-of-shooting-victim-call-for-curfew-3729055.php

[4] “Spike In Violence Prompts Bridgeport To Install Metal Detectors,” by Tikeyah Whittle. Published Spetember 11, 2012. Accessed October 5, 2012: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/spike_in_violence_prompts_bridgeport_school_to_install_metal_detectors/

[5] “Hartford Public School Board of Education Policies and Regulations.” Accessed October 5, 2012: http://www.noahwebstermicrosociety.org/Board%20of%20Ed%20Rules%20Reg.pdf

[6] “Oklahoma teen suicide mourned,” by Christine Roberts. Published September 27, 2012. Accessed October 5, 2012: http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-09-27/news/34131892_1_memorial-service-metal-detectors-prayer-service

[7] See Footnote 1.

[8] See Footnote 4.

[9] “Expert: Metal detectors aren’t guarantee,” by Brian Troutman. Published September 17, 2012. Accessed October 5, 2012: http://www.abc2news.com/dpp/news/education/expert-metal-detectors-arent-guarantee

[10] “Impacts of Metal Detector Use in Schools: Insights From 15 Years of Research,” by Abigail Hankin, Marci Hertz, and Thomas Simon. Journal of School Health, Vol. 81, No.2 pp.100-106. Accessed October 5, 2012: http://www.edweek.org/media/hankin-02security.pdf

[11] “The issue isn’t ‘safety,’ it’s guns,” by Lori K. Brown. Published September 19, 2012. Accessed October 5, 2012: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-09-19/news/bs-ed-schools-guns-20120919_1_gun-owners-school-gun-incidents-metal-detectors

[12] See Footnote 4.

[13] “Advocating on Your Child’s Behalf: A Parent’s Guide to Connecticut School Law,” by Joseph C. Maya, Esq., pp.62.

Family Awarded $13 Million for Tragic Day at the Pool

Across the US, all year round, millions of people swim for fun and recreation in backyard pools, public pools, private clubs, and beaches, ponds, and lakes. It’s not all fun and games, though. About 10 people drown each day. Usually, two of the victims are 14 years old or younger. In fact, drowning is the second leading cause of death for children between 1 and 14 years old.

Take Soo Hyeon Park, for example. At 13 years old, he and his family (a sister and his parents) were visiting from South Korea in July 2008; they were staying with friends in Ridgewood, New Jersey. The family, together with their friends and their teenage children, visited Graydon Pool, a popular local “swimming hole” that’s owned and operated by the Village of Ridgewood.  It’s spring-fed, about three acres big, has beach areas and a “deep water” area that’s at least 12 feet deep. Even the water, though clean, looks like water you’d see at the beach, not the crystal clear water you see at the local YMCA, for example.

Park and the other teenaged boys went swimming in the deep area. For some reason, Park began struggling to stay afloat and eventually went underwater. One of his friends tried to rescue him but couldn’t. Park drowned.

In the parents’ wrongful death lawsuit against the Village, they claimed it provided negligent supervision at the pool and that the lifeguards were negligent in their response to Park’s situation. The Village didn’t stand still, either. It filed a lawsuit against Park’s parents, as well as his teenaged friends and their parents, claiming they were negligent and responsible for Park’s death.

Ultimately, the Village’s claims were thrown out of court and, after nearly two years of legal wrangling and a month-long trial, a jury recently awarded $10 million to Park’s family. The jurors agreed that there was inadequate supervision at the pool. None of the nine or more lifeguards saw Park while he was struggling to stay above water. After Park’s mother alerted the lifeguards and the pool manager, the manager ordered the lifeguards to search for Park around the pool, not inside the pool. Lifeguards searched the parking lot for Park. Park was not removed from the water until 40 minutes after the manager and lifeguards were alerted

Wrongful death lawsuits have nothing to do with money. People who lose loved ones certainly know that no amount of money can bring their loved ones back. These suits are about making sure the people responsible for the deaths are held accountable. They’re also about making sure the same tragedy doesn’t happen again.

By David Baarlaer

At Maya Murphy, P.C., our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is dedicated to achieving the best results for individuals and their families and loved ones whose daily lives have been disrupted by injury.  Our personal injury attorneys assist clients in New York, Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Westport, and throughout Fairfield County. If you have any questions relating a personal injury claim or would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our Westport office by phone at (203) 221-3100 or via e-mail at JMaya@Mayalaw.com

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