A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Appellate Division Addresses Rights of Part-Time Teachers Under Tenure Act

By on March 6, 2018 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq.
Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq.

Educational service commissions sometimes employ part-time teachers to work in public and non-public schools. The Sussex County Educational Services Commission (“Commission”) reduced the number of hours worked by part-time teachers but did not alter the hourly rate of pay. In Zimmerman et al. v. Sussex County Educational Services Commission two teachers challenged the action arguing that their tenure and seniority rights were violated. The Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) sided with the Commission by determining that the decrease in work hours did not reduce the teachers’ compensation or trigger their seniority rights under the New Jersey Tenure Act because the hourly rates did not decrease. The teachers appealed.

The Appellate Division, in a published decision issued on February 13, 2018, reversed the Commissioner’s decision. In doing so, the Appellate Division explained that the Commissioner’s focus on the absence of a reduction in hourly rates and the lack of a minimum number of guaranteed hours in the contract documents was misplaced. The Appellate Division emphasized that the touchstone is the Tenure Act and explained that part-time teachers are eligible for tenure if they meet the requirements for acquisition of tenure under the Act.

However, two significant questions remain, namely (1) whether the reduction in hours reduced the teachers’ compensation under N.J.S.A. 18A:28-5, and (2) whether the reduction in hours triggered seniority rights. The Court remanded the matter for further proceedings in accordance with its instructions on how to calculate compensation in a situation where work hours fluctuate from year to year based upon service needs.

This is a case to watch because the ultimate disposition could have an impact beyond educational service commissions.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

About the Author:

Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. is Co-Chair of Capehart Scatchard’s School Law Group and a Shareholder in the Labor and Employment Group. For over 25 years, he has focused his practice in the areas of school law, and labor and employment. He has represented school districts with respect to a variety of education law issues involving students, teachers, school construction and special education issues including questions pertaining to inclusion, least restrictive environment, discipline, behavior management, transition, evaluation, discrete trial instruction, medically fragile students, dyslexia, Down Syndrome, Aspergers Syndrome, and equal access to activities and services for disabled individuals. He has also been recognized as one of South Jersey’s Top Attorneys as published by SJ Magazine. Mr. Muccilli is admitted to practice law in New Jersey, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and Washington, DC.


Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.