A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Tag: Commissioner of Education

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In an unpublished decision issued on May 4, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the final agency decision of the Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”)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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Commissioner of Education Finds Violation of Consent Requirements for Administering Student Surveys

By on November 15, 2016 in Students with 0 Comments

On October 24, 2016, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education (“Commissioner”) upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) decision that the Ocean Township Board of Education (“Board”) violated a state education statute which requires school districts to obtain informed written consent prior to administering a student survey. However, the Commissioner rejected the ALJ’s decision to impose a monetary penalty against the Board. In Green v. Board of Education of the Township of Ocean, the parents of sixth-graders successfully argued that the Board failed to obtain written informed consent in violation of N.J.S.A. 18A:36-34. Pursuant to the Board’s policy and practice at […]

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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. […]

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Out-of-District Placement Not Required to Utilize Aides Preferred by Sending District

By on October 5, 2016 in Special Education/504 with 1 Comment

In Trenton Board of Education v. Mercer County Special Services School District, OAL DKT. NO. EDU 16465-15, AGENCY DKT. NO. 306-10/15 (Sept. 20, 2016), the Trenton Board of Education (“Trenton”) sought to supply individual aides through a contracted vendor for its special education students who are placed out-of-district at the Mercer County Special Services School District (“Special Services”), rather than rely on Special Services to hire and provide the aides. Trenton believed it could provide the aides at a less expensive rate than Special Services. However, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education, who affirmed the Administrative Law Judge’s decision, rejected […]

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