A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Tag: Appellate Division

Appellate Division Upholds Findings of School Ethics Violations

By on May 24, 2017 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

On May 22, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Lowell v. Smallwood affirmed the Commissioner of Education’s decision that a board of education member violated various provisions of the School Ethics Act (“Act”) for her dealings with a potential candidate for superintendent. Specifically, the board member violated N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24.1(c) and (e) for acting beyond the scope of her authority and making personal promises. Felicia Simmons, Geneva Smallwood, and Corey Lowell were members of the Asbury Park Board of Education (“Board”). Lowell initiated a complaint with the School Ethics Commission (“SEC”) asserting that Simmons and Smallwood violated the Act. Lowell […]

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Appellate Division Approves Dual Send-Receive Relationship

By on May 9, 2017 in Students with 0 Comments

In an unpublished decision issued on May 4, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the final agency decision of the Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) approving the send-receive relationship between the Seaside Park Board of Education (“Seaside Park”) and the Lavallette Board of Education (“Lavallette”). The decision captioned In the Matter of the Petition for Authorization to Enter into a Sending-Receiving Relationship with the Board of Education of the Borough of Lavallette, Ocean County allows Seaside Park to send its students to Lavallette while maintaining its existing send-receive agreement with the Toms River Regional Schools Board of Education (“Toms River”). […]

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Appellate Division Affirms Tuition Reimbursement Issue Not Subject to Arbitration

By on April 11, 2017 in Labor & Employment with 1 Comment

On March 2, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued an unpublished decision in Hillsborough Township Board of Education v. Hillsborough Township Education Association in which it affirmed the Public Employment Relations Commission’s (“PERC”) determination that an issue involving tuition reimbursement was preempted by statute and therefore not arbitrable. This case arose from employees whose requests for tuition reimbursement were denied because the courses were not related to the employees’ current or future job responsibilities pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:6-8.5. In 2013, four individuals employed by the Hillsborough Township Board of Education (“Board”) sought tuition reimbursement from the Board for various […]

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Appellate Division Clarifies Who May Issue Rice Notice to Superintendent

By on April 4, 2017 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

In 2013, the Appellate Division ruled that Daniel Woska, a former member of the Brick Township Board of Education (“Board”), exceeded the scope of his authority and violated the New Jersey School Ethics Act (“Act”) when he directed the Business Administrator to issue a Rice notice to the Superintendent. As a result of that Rice notice, the Board discussed the Superintendent’s employment and then terminated him. In the 2013 decision, the Appellate Division remanded the case to the School Ethics Commission (“SEC”) to determine who is authorized to issue a Rice notice for the purposes of reviewing the Superintendent’s employment. […]

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Appellate Division Further Defines “Promptly Available” Meeting Minutes under OPMA

By on February 21, 2017 in Open Public Meetings Act with 0 Comments

Last week, we reviewed the New Jersey Appellate Division’s ruling in Kean Federation of Teachers v. Board of Trustees of Kean University, which changes a public entity’s obligations regarding Rice notices sent to its employees. You can read last week’s post here. This week, we will examine the Appellate Division’s other decision in the Kean case regarding a public body’s duty under the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”), N.J.S.A. 10:4-6 et seq., to make meeting minutes promptly available. While the OPMA itself does not establish a specific time period for the “promptly available” standard, the Appellate Division found that the […]

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To Rice or Not to Rice? A Lesson from the Appellate Division

By on February 15, 2017 in Open Public Meetings Act with 0 Comments

*Please note that the case discussed in this article has been reversed by the New Jersey Supreme Court on June 21, 2018 in Kean Fed’n of Teachers v. Morrell, ___ N.J. ___, A-84-16 (2018).* In a published decision released on February 8, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued an important ruling regarding a public entity’s obligations regarding Rice notices provided to its employees. In Kean Federation of Teachers v. Board of Trustees of Kean University, the Appellate Division determined that a public body is required to provide a Rice notice to any employee whose name appears on the agenda regarding […]

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Appellate Division Rules in Favor of Public Entities in Two OPRA Cases Involving Redactions

By on January 24, 2017 in Open Public Records Act with 0 Comments

On January 13 and 19, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued two unpublished decisions in the favor of public entities regarding redactions made to documents disclosed pursuant to the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”). These cases clarify what information may be redacted from government records when released under OPRA. Public agencies, including school districts and charter schools, must comply with OPRA, which requires disclosure of a government record unless a specific exception applies. An individual who believes that a public agency improperly denied his or her OPRA request may challenge that determination by filing a complaint in Superior Court […]

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Board of Education Required to Pay Back $3.8M to Teachers’ Pension Fund

By on December 27, 2016 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On December 22, 2016, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Middletown Township Board of Education v. Division of Pensions and Benefits affirmed the Board of Trustees of the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund’s determination that the Middletown Township Board of Education offered an unauthorized early retirement incentive to its employees. The decision requires the Board to pay back approximately $3.8 million to the teachers’ pension fund. In October 2007, the Middletown Township Board of Education (“Board”) approved a Sidebar Agreement with the Middletown Township Education Association (“Association”) modifying the collective bargaining agreement between the Board and the Association. The Sidebar […]

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Unilaterally Reducing Teachers’ Hours During Economic Crisis Prohibited

By on December 13, 2016 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On November 29, 2016, the New Jersey Supreme Court In the Matter of Robbinsville Township Board of Education v. Washington Township Education Association ruled that boards of education must negotiate employees’ work hours and cannot unilaterally reduce those hours even in times of economic crisis. The collective negotiation agreement between the Robbinsville Township Board of Education (“Board”) and the Washington Township Education Association (“Association”) stated that teachers’ salaries would be based on 188 days for new teachers and 185 days for all other teachers. In 2010, a series of events caused a significant reduction in the Board’s funding. As a […]

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Appellate Division Remands Case Involving Permanent Disqualification of Teacher

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:6-7.1, the Criminal History Review Unit (“CHRU”) of the New Jersey Department of Education (“NJDOE”) is authorized to permanently disqualify a public school employee from employment with any educational institution supervised by the NJDOE if that individual is convicted of certain New Jersey crimes or a substantially equivalent crime in another state. On June 29, 2016, the New Jersey Appellate Division in Kelly v. New Jersey Department of Education and Lawrence Township Board of Education, 2016 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1506 (App. Div. 2016), analyzed whether a teacher’s convictions in Pennsylvania for recklessly endangering another person and […]

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