A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Tag: Commissioner of Education

Appellate Division Rules Against Charter Schools In Funding Issue

By on September 19, 2017 in Other with 0 Comments

Four charter schools located in Jersey City challenged the level of funding they received from the local board of education under the School Funding Reform Act of 2008 (“SFRA”) as inadequate for their students to receive a thorough and efficient education in violation of the New Jersey Constitution. In an unpublished decision issued on September 14, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division denied the charter schools’ challenge and upheld the current funding mechanism in Learning Community Charter School v. Jersey City Board of Education. Charter schools are public schools that operate under a charter granted by the Commissioner of Education […]

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A Reminder from the Appellate Division on RIFs and Tenured Employees

By on August 22, 2017 in Labor & Employment with 0 Comments

On August 17, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued an unpublished opinion in which it upheld the Atlantic City Board of Education’s (“Board”) decision to change the employment of two supervisors from twelve-month positions to ten-month positions due to a reduction in force (“RIF”). This case highlights an important interplay between RIFs and tenure rights of public school employees. The Board employed Lourdes Vidal-Turner and C. Dedra Williams (“Petitioners”) as teachers for numerous years. The Board then promoted each of them to a twelve-month supervisory position in which they later acquired tenured. The State Appointed Fiscal Monitor for the […]

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BOE Unable to Withhold Pay of Teacher Who Collected Unemployment Benefits During Suspension

On May 18, 2017, the Commissioner of Education in Strassle v. Old Bridge Township Board of Education affirmed the decision of the Administrative Law Judge that tenured teacher Thomas Strassle was entitled to pay during his suspension even though he had collected unemployment benefits during the suspension. Strassle was a tenured teacher employed by the Old Bridge Township Board of Education (“Board”). In September 2015, the Board placed him on a paid suspension pending an investigation of his conduct pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:6-8.3. Thereafter, in April 2016, the Board certified tenure charges against Strassle and converted his suspension to an […]

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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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Commissioner of Education Dismisses Cases Against Superintendent for Lack of Jurisdiction

By on April 18, 2017 in Labor & Employment with 1 Comment

On March 30, 2017, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) in Chiodi v. Eitner affirmed an Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) decision dismissing cases brought by three teachers against Superintendent Jason Eitner of the Waterford Township Board of Education (“Board”) due to a failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The teachers sought to revoke the Superintendent’s certificate for conduct unbecoming based on allegations of sexual harassment, age discrimination, and bullying. In short, the cases were dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The teachers alleged that the Superintendent discriminated against them, invaded their privacy, and violated school […]

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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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Commissioner of Education Finds Student Not Victim of HIB

By on January 9, 2017 in Students with 0 Comments

Most harassment, intimidation, and bullying (“HIB”) investigations arise from allegations by a student against another student. However, New Jersey school districts must also investigate HIB allegations by a student against a staff member. On December 21, 2016, in M.R. o/b/o M.R. v. Board of Education of the Ramapo Indian Hills Regional High School District, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s determination that a cheerleading coach’s conduct did not constitute HIB and did not violate the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act because the conduct was not based on any actual or perceived distinguishing characteristic. Student M.R. […]

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Non-Renewal Provision in Superintendent’s Contract Voided

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

On December 1, 2016, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s determination to invalidate a non-renewal provision contained in a Superintendent’s contract. In Richardson v. Gangadin and Jersey City Education Association v. Jersey City Board of Education, the Commissioner found that a board of education and a Superintendent may not alter the statutory requirements governing the renewal of a Superintendent’s contract. N.J.S.A. 18A:17-20.1 provides, in part, that a Superintendent will be automatically reappointed or renewed unless the board of education affirmatively provides timely notice.  Such notice must be 30 days for each year in the […]

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School Ethics Act Violated Regarding Disclosure Statements

By on November 29, 2016 in School Ethics Act with 0 Comments

In November 2016, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) upheld three decisions by the School Ethics Commission that various board members violated the School Ethics Act for failing to timely file their Personal/Relative and Financial Disclosure statements. N.J.S.A. 18A:12-25 and 26 require school board and charter school board members to annually file with the School Ethics Commission disclosure statements regarding their employment, financial interests, and sources of income. Moreover, these provisions of the School Ethics Act mandate that board members also disclose similar information regarding their relatives. Financial disclosure statements must be filed on or before April 30 of […]

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