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3 N.J.A.R. 129

Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund; Caplan, Iola v
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Citation: 3 N.J.A.R. 129
Decision Date: 1981
Synopsis: Iola Caplan appealed from a decision of the Board of Trustees of the Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund terminating her membership in the Fund on the basis that she was no longer engaged in the profession of teaching 'as a full-time occupation' as required by N.J.S.A. 18A:66-2(p). The administrative law judge found that from September 1962 until September 1979 the petitioner was employed, on a five-day per week basis, as a school social worker in the Henry Hudson school system. In September 1979, the petitioner's work week was reduced by her employer, upon her own request, from five days to three days and her salary was reduced accordingly. At the same time, the school district hired an additional employee, on a two-day per week basis, to perform the same duties as those which the petitioner performed on the other three days of the week. This additional employee was paid on a per diem basis and was not enrolled in the Pension Fund. The judge noted that the Legislature had expressly empowered the Board of Trustees to promulgate rules and regulations for the administration and control of the pension funds created by the Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund Act and had specifically declared that 'in all cases of doubt the Board of Trustees shall determine whether any person is a teacher.' N.J.S.A. 18A:66-2(p). The judge concluded that the Board's decision that the petitioner was not eligible for Fund membership as a teacher was proper and was based on long-standing practice and policy of the Board of Trustees. The judge noted that the Fund was established for the benefit of 'career' teachers and was not intended to provide pensions for potentially hundreds of part-time individuals who teach as a sideline or whose major occupation is other than teaching. The Board's policy in denying Fund membership to individuals such as petitioner reflects this scheme. The judge noted, however, that the Board's policy was flexible enough to allow a part-time teacher to qualify for Fund membership if the part-timer performed all of the duties required of that position and was not simply one of a series of individuals filling a position. Accordingly, the judge ordered that petitioner's membership in the Fund be terminated. Richard Friedman, Esq., for Petitioner William P. Malloy, Deputy Attorney General, for Respondent (James R. Zazzali, Attorney General of New Jersey, Attorney)