A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Tag: Appellate Division

Boards of Education Prohibited from Discussing Tenure Charges During Public Session

By on January 22, 2021 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On January 21, 2021, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued a published decision in Simadiris v. Paterson Public School District in which it decided whether a board of education’s decision to certify tenure charges against an employee during private session violated that employee’s right to request such consideration in public. In short, the Appellate Division agreed with the school district and ruled that a board of education was prohibited from discussing the tenure charges during public session. Tenure charges were brought against an employee of the Paterson Board of Education (“Board”). The employee’s attorney received notice two days before a […]

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Attorney’s Fees Not Available Under OPMA

By on December 16, 2020 in Open Public Meetings Act with 0 Comments

Plaintiff John Paff filed a lawsuit in the Law Division of the New Jersey Superior Court against the Trenton Board of Education (“Board”) alleging, in part, that the Board violated the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”) and the New Jersey Civil Rights Act (“NJCRA”) because the Board did not reference the payment of a merit bonus to the Superintendent on its agenda for a public meeting. Plaintiff argued that if he prevailed on this issue, he would be entitled to attorney’s fees under OPMA. While the Superior Court found that the Board violated OPMA by failing to provide the public […]

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Appellate Division Affirms Electronic Voting by BOE

On October 30, 2020, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Schwartz v. Princeton Board of Education issued an unpublished decision affirming that a board of education may utilize an electronic voting system so long as all of the other requirements of the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”) are met. In other words, electronic voting by board of education members is not a per se violation of OPMA. Plaintiffs, members of the public, filed a lawsuit against the Princeton Board of Education (“Board”) alleging that its vote on a specific agenda item at its June 12, 2018 public meeting violated OPMA. […]

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N.J. Supreme Court Reverses; Refuses to Allow “Tyranny of Labels” to Compromise Analysis in Tenure Case

By on February 5, 2020 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided a teacher tenure case which it warned served as a cautionary tale that “demonstrates the ability of labels to cloud an analysis.”  Melnyk v. Bd. of Educ. of Delsea Reg’l High Sch. Dist., 241 N.J. 31 (2020).  The Delsea Regional School District (“District”) had employed the petitioner, Paula Melnyk, as a tenured special education teacher since 1991.  In 2002, the district began also employing Melnyk to work evenings as a teacher in its after-hours alternative program, in addition to her position as a special education teacher during the regular school day.  Melnyk […]

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N.J. Supreme Court Rules on Student Records Issue – Part 2

Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. In last week’s article, we discussed the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision in L.R. v. Camden City Public School District, focusing on the Court’s decision to extend the protections for student records under the New Jersey Pupil Records Act (“NJPRA”) to include redacted records. In its decision in L.R., the Court also affirmed the Appellate Division’s holding that a requestor could gain access to student records if they fell within one of the categories of “authorized” individuals and entities identified in N.J.A.C. 6A:32-7.5(e)(1) through (16). Specifically, the Appellate Division suggested, that the requestors could seek […]

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N.J. Supreme Court Rules on Student Records Issue – Part 1

Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. Under New Jersey law, student records are protected from public disclosure. “Student record” pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:32-2.1 means information related to an individual student gathered within or outside the school district and maintained within the school district, regardless of the physical form in which it is maintained. Essential in this definition is the idea that any information that is maintained for the purpose of second-party review is considered a student record. Access to student records by second-parties are governed by several state and federal laws including the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), […]

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Appellate Division Affirms OPMA Does Not Require BOE to Discuss Proposed Employment Action Prior to Voting

On May 17, 2019, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Centrella v. Prospect Park Board of Education issued an unpublished decision confirming that, under the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”), a board of education is not required to discuss a proposed employment action prior to actually voting on that action. This case involved a former Prospect Park Board of Education (“Board”) employee’s appeal under the OPMA in which she alleged that the Board improperly eliminated her position of speech language specialist and terminated her tenured position when the Board did not discuss the proposed action at the same meeting in […]

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Appellate Division Rules Chapter 78 Does Not Preempt Terms of CNA

The Ridgefield Park Education Association (“Association”) filed an appeal with the New Jersey Appellate Division challenging a ruling by the Public Employment Relations Commission (“PERC”) in favor of the Ridgefield Park Board of Education (“Board”), which held that Chapter 78 preempted the terms of the parties’ collective negotiations agreement (“CNA”) for the period July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2018. On May 3, 2019, the Appellate Division reversed PERC’s determination in In the Matter of Ridgefield Park Board of Education and Ridgefield Park Education Association and remanded the matter to PERC to implement a remedial mechanism to refund the excess […]

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Special Education Settlement Subject to 6-Year Statute of Limitations

When boards of education resolve disputes with parents of special education students, they often enter into settlement agreements with the parents which are approved by an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) of the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”). On February 27, 2019, the New Jersey Appellate Division in L.A. v. South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education issued a decision affirming that parties to a settlement agreement approved by the OAL are subject to a six-year statute of limitations to enforce that agreement. In 2000, the parent of a special education student initiated litigation against the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education (“Board”) seeking reimbursement […]

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Contract Rescission Does Not Avoid Need for Public Notice and Hearing

By on March 15, 2019 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

By: Robert A. Muccilli, Esq. Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq. Statutes are to be read sensibly rather than literally. This was the message sent by the New Jersey Appellate Division on March 14, 2019 in Wall Township Education Association v. Board of Education of the Wall Township School District when it reversed the Commissioner of Education’s decision and held that a superintendent and school district may not avoid the requirements for public comment and public hearing under N.J.S.A. 18A:11-11 simply by rescinding an existing superintendent employment contract. The Superintendent had a contract which was to expire on June 30, 2019. After […]

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