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Legal Memorandum: Child Protected from Discrimination

Issue: Under New Jersey and federal law, is a child protected from discrimination by a private school based on actual or perceived disability?

Area of Law: Education Law
Keywords: Protection of a child; Discrimination by a private school; Actual or perceived disability
Jurisdiction: Federal, New Jersey
Cited Cases: 794 A.2d 185; 128 N.J. Super. 66; 846 F. Supp. 611; 120 N.J. 73; 576 A.2d 241; 735 A.2d 548; 46 F. Supp. 2d 72; 61 N.J. Super. 119; 549 A.2d 900; 807 A.2d 192; 661 A.2d 1202; 170 A.2d 39; 9 F. Supp. 2d 460; 349 N.J. Super. 527; 918 F. Supp. 1515; 849 F. Supp. 611; 228 N.J. Super. 370; 276 N.J. Super. 398; 44 N.J. 480; 160 A.2d 177; 364 F.3d 79; 319 A.2d 80; 174 N.J. 359; 648 A.2d 223; 537 U.S. 1188
Cited Statutes: N.J.S.A. § 10:5–12(f), § 10:5–4, § 10:5–4.1, § 10:5–5(q); N.J.S.A. § 10:5–5(l); N.J.S.A. § 10:5–3; 42 U.S.C.A. § 12182; § 12181(7)(J); 42 U.S.C.A. § 12188(a); N.J.S.A. § 18A:36–20; 42 U.S.C.A. § 12187; 29 U.S.C.A § 794
Date: 05/01/2004

A.              The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

Although the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) allows for recovery of emotional distress or pain and suffering damages, see, e.g., Mancini v. Township of Teaneck, 349 N.J. Super. 527, 565, 794 A.2d 185, 208 (App. Div.), aff’d, 174 N.J. 359, 807 A.2d 192 (2002), as well as punitive damages, see id., 349 N.J. Super. at 566-68, 794 A.2d at 209-10, the LAD appears not to protect a child from discrimination by a private school because the school is a private institution.

The LAD expressly prohibits places of public accommodation, among others, from denying any privileges or advantages or otherwise discriminating against any person because of disability.  N.J.S.A. § 10:5–12(f) (West Supp. 2004).  It provides in pertinent part that “[a]ll persons shall have the opportunity to . . . obtain all the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of any place of public accommodation . . . and other real property without discrimination because of . . . disability.”  Id., § 10:5–4 (West Supp. 2004).  The LAD applies to all persons who are or have been at any time disabled.  Id., § 10:5–4.1 (West Supp. 2004).  “Disability” is broadly defined, id., § 10:5–5(q) (West Supp. 2004), and presumably would include autism.  The definition also includes a perceived disability.  Poff v. Caro, 228 N.J. Super. 370, 377, 549 A.2d 900, 903 (Law Div. 1987).

The LAD probably does not apply to prohibit discrimination by a private school.  Although a public […]

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