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Commissioner of Education Rules that Rights of Tenured Part-Time Teachers Not Violated

By on October 18, 2016 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

Petitioners Beryl Zimmerman and Judy Comment were employed by the Sussex County Educational Services Commission (“Sussex County”) as tenured part-time teachers for numerous years. For the 2014-2015 school year, Sussex County reduced Petitioners’ weekly assigned hours of work from their 2013-2014 school year levels. Petitioners filed a Petition of Appeal claiming that Sussex County violated their tenure and seniority rights when their compensation was effectively reduced. On October 4, 2016, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education affirmed the Administrative Law Judge’s decision that this action did not violate Petitioners’ rights in Zimmerman v. Sussex County Educational Services Commission, OAL Dkt. No. EDU 430-15, EDU 431-15 (Oct. 4, 2016).

Sussex County reduced Petitioners’ number of hours due to the different levels of services needed for its students. The Commissioner rejected Petitioners’ argument that Sussex County violated their tenure rights under N.J.S.A. 18A:28-5 when it reduced their 2014-2015 school year weekly assigned hours of work, while non-tenured and/or less senior part-time teachers were employed in positions within the scope of their certifications and endorsements. Rather, the Commissioner reasoned in order for a reduction of a part-time employee’s hours to trigger tenure and/or seniority rights, that employee must have a guaranteed number of working hours.

Here, Petitioners never had a guaranteed number of hours in their employment contracts with Sussex County. Instead, Petitioners’ employment terms were flexible in terms of the number of hours expected that they work. Accordingly, Petitioners were not entitled to a minimum number of hours assigned, and their tenure rights not were violated.

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About the Author

About the Author:

Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. concentrates her practice on the representation of boards of education and charter schools in all areas of school law including: labor and employment, special education, Section 504, student discipline, FERPA, Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, student residency, civil rights, tenure, OPRA, and OPMA. In connection with these representations, she is experienced in handling matters before State and Federal courts, including the Office of Administrative Law. Ms. Dev is an experienced special education litigator and defends school districts in due process hearings from inception through trial. In addition, she has handled matters before governmental agencies, including the U.S. Office for Civil Rights and New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. Ms. Dev routinely conducts training and seminars, drafts policies and manuals, and provides strategic advice to school administrators regarding school law issues. Ms. Dev was recently recognized as one of South Jersey’s Awesome Attorneys as published by South Jersey Magazine. She is licensed to practice law in New Jersey, the District Court for the District of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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