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11 N.J.A.R. 499

Scotch Plains-Fanwood Regional School District Board of Education of the, and Donald E. Sheldon; Brunnquell, Robert v
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Citation: 11 N.J.A.R. 499
Decision Date: 1987
Synopsis: Petitioner, a tenured school social worker, submitted his resig- nation, which was accepted by respondent board of education at its next meeting. Several months later, petitioner asked the board to reconsider its acceptance of his resignation and requested a hearing. He alleged that his resignation was not voluntary because of his mental and physical condition at the time. The board did not respond to the request. Petitioner filed an appeal with the Commissioner of Education and the matter was transmitted to the Office of Adminis- trative Law for a hearing. Respondent moved to dismiss the matter.on the grounds that the petition was time-barred by N.J.A.C. 6:24-1.2, which requires that a Pe. tition of Appeal be filed no later than 90 days after the occurrence of the cause of action. The administrative law judge who heard the matter found that the cause of action occurred when respondent accepted petitioner's resignation. Since the Petition of Appeal was filed more than 90 days after that event, it did violate the 90 day rule. However, there was no evidence in the record as to whether there was sufficient reason to relax strict adherence to the. time frame, as per- mitted by N.J.A.C. 6:24-1.17. Therefore, the judge denied the motion to dismiss and scheduled a hearing on the merits. The administrative law judge's denial of the motion to dismiss was interlocutorily appealed to the Commissioner of Education. The Commissioner reversed and granted respondent's motion to dismiss. The Commissioner agreed that the Petition of Appeal was time-barred by N.J.A.C. 6:24-1.2, and concluded that because there was no com- pelling reason offered by petitioner for relaxing the 90 day rule, the matter should be dismissed. The State Board of Education reversed the decision of the Com- missioner of Education. The Board determined that petitioner was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the question of whether his state of mind during the relevant period was such as to render his resig- nation involuntary and to warrant relaxation of the 90 day rule. The record before the Commissioner was not sufficiently developed to permit a conclusion that petitioner's resignation was voluntary. To deny petitioner the opportunity to present evidence concerning his state of mind, in light of his assertions, would be contrary to the principles of due process. The matter was remanded to the Commissioner of Education for a hearing. Robert P. G!ickman, Esq., for petitioner Casper P. Boehm, Jr., Esq., for respondent
Rule(s) Cited: 6:24-1.2 6:24-1.17