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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

05/02/14 DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES, DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY VS. G.R. A-4594-12T4


05/02/14 DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES, DIVISION OF
CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY VS. G.R.
A-4594-12T4
The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (the "Division") informed G.R. that she neglected her two-year- old son by leaving him unattended in her minivan while shopping in a Target store. G.R. immediately requested an Office of Administrative Law hearing to resolve numerous issues of disputed material facts. Five years later, the Division placed her name on the child abuse registry and issued its final agency decision, summarily concluding that G.R. neglected her son by failing to exercise a minimum degree of care as required by N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21c(4)(b). This substantial delay was caused by agency inaction and by the misplacement of G.R.'s file by a deputy attorney general. Although G.R. timely disputed the Division's initial substantiation of neglect, she lived with the uncertainty of the outcome of her administrative challenge during  the  entire five years. We  reversed without prejudice, remanded, and directed the OAL to conduct a hearing to resolve the disputed issues of fact, and we gave G.R. the opportunity to argue on remand that the case should be dismissed as a matter of fundamental fairness.