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  • Adapted from an article written by John J Burns

SCHOOL LAW UPDATE Part 3 of 4

IV. SUPERIOR COURT, CHANCERY/LAW DIVISION


Collective Negotiations


Plaintiffs in this matter objected to the "release time" provisions of the collective negotiation agreement under which the union president had the right to carry out union business and affairs while the District paid them a teacher's salary, alleging that such a clause was an unconstitutional gift of public funds. The Court held that the plaintiffs were required to show that the release-time provisions in the aforementioned contract were repugnant to the constitution beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court found that the release time provisions of the CNA served a valid public purpose and were implementations of a statutory right. N.J.S.A. 18A:30-7, established the grounds for such payments by permitting boards of education "to fix either by rule or by individual consideration, the payment of salary in cases of absence not constituting sick leave.” Rozenblit v. Marcia V. Lyles, Dkt No. Hud-C-2-17, 2017 N.J. Super. Unpub. Lexis 3202, (Ch. Div. October 31, 2017).


V. TENURE ARBITRATION

The Board brought tenure charges after teacher was accused of submitting false timesheets/vouchers. The Arbitrator found that teacher calculated timesheets were used in the same manner over several years. The Board possessed no policy saying how they must be submitted. There was no willful or deliberate attempt by teacher to submit false timesheets. The Arbitrator dismissed the charges and ordered the board to reinstate teacher and make him whole. Matter of Cole, Arb 2017: Nov 10.

A speech-language therapist was not subject to N.J.S.A. 18A:6-17.3. Therefore, inefficiency charges were subject to just cause standard. Matter of Kulik, Arb 2017: Nov 13.

Locking pre-school students in the bathroom as form of punishment multiple times warrants a dismissal of a tenured teacher. Improper confinement of special education students to a bathroom was found to be serious misconduct. Foremost in a teacher's responsibility is the need to protect and safeguard their students. This was found to be especially true of special education students who are particularly vulnerable. The respondent, on more than one occasion, placed the students in a potentially harmful situation. The students were unsupervised, and emotionally distraught, in a tiny room with the potential to bump their head and become even more distraught. Matter of DeMarco, Arb 2017: Nov. 20.

Allegations that a union president engaged in unbecoming conduct when he had a confrontation about a grievance with the vice-principal who had him ejected from a school building following an encounter where the union president met with the vice-principal who felt threatened and called security to escort the union president from building were sustained. However, requested unpaid suspension was rejected and a written warning was found to be appropriate. Such action is to be viewed as corrective and progressive in nature and to provide positive direction. Therefore while respondent had a right to engage in the vigorous pursuit of complaints and/or grievances, his lawful activities must be conducted without disruption or challenge to the ongoing order of school business. Matter of McEntee, Arb 2017: Dec 26.

Tenure Charges were dismissed where the board failed to follow proper evaluation procedures when led to a material effect on the evaluation. Charges for inefficiency dismissed. Matter of Lopes-Anastasi. Arb. 2018; Jan 10.

A two month suspension without pay for an Italian teacher who sped away from a traffic stop because her mother-in-law who had hallucinations was home alone. Teacher led police on a chase lasting 2-3 minutes before she was stopped in front of her own house. Teacher had gone out to grocery store. On the vehicle search, police found a marijuana pipe in teacher's purse. Teacher was convicted of eluding and entered PTI. This incident was a single incident and there were no prior incidents on teacher's record. Therefore, tenure dismissal were too harsh a penalty. Matter of Bruni, Arb 2018: Feb 9.

Board sought tenure dismissal of custodian who had inappropriate contact with 15 year old student, including bringing her lunch almost every day, speaking to her about matters of a sexual nature and discussions about using a controlled dangerous substance with her. They had lunch together in the boiler room. The Custodian also gave her money to have nails done and talked to her about his violent past. The Custodian and student also exchanged inappropriate text messages. Despite previously unblemished record, tenure dismissal was upheld Matter of Webber, 2018: March 6.

Tenure charges for inefficiency were upheld where a teacher received two partially effective ratings. Complaints that the district failed to hold required meetings were unpersuasive. The teacher bears some responsibility to make sure that required meetings occur. Matter of Mackenzie. 2018: April 10.


Tenure charges for conduct unbecoming were rendered moot where the district sustained dismissal for inefficiency where a teachers performance was clearly documented and the teacher had been given multiple opportunities to improve. No anti-union animus was demonstrated as had been claimed by teacher. Matter of Rudinskv 2018: April 12.


Tenure charges were upheld where a teacher received unsatisfactory ratings. The teacher failed to cooperate with corrective action plan by not attending required meetings. The teacher made no effort to modify his pedagogy in accordance with the dictates. Dismissal upheld. Matter of Youseff, 2018 April 23.


*John J. Burns, Esq. is Counsel to the New Jersey School Boards Association . This presentation is reprinted from the 2018 Spring School Law Forum with permission.

Nothing contained in this document should be construed as legal advice. This document is for informational purposes only

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