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12 N.J.A.R. 10

Forte, Pat v. Belleville, Board of Education of the Township of
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Citation: 12 N.J.A.R. 10
Decision Date: 1988
Synopsis: Petitioner, a tenured elementary school principal, alleged that respondent board of education violated his tenure rights when it transferred him to the position of high school vice principal without his consent. Respondent contended that the action was within its discretionary authority. The matter was transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing. The administrative law judge assigned to the case found that the board had become dissatisfied with petitioner's job performance but, in recognition of more than 25 years of service to the district, decided to transfer petitioner to a position of less responsibility rather than take punitive action against him. The administrative law judge con- cluded that the transfer was without petitioner's consent and therefore violated his tenure rights. The judge ordered petitioner reinstated to his position as elementary school principal. Upon review, the Commissioner of Education adopted this initial decision. A transfer from a tenured principal position to a vice princi- pal position is not permissible absent consent, a reduction in force or dismissal through tenure charges: Respondent filed an appeal with the State Board of Education, at which time the parties reached a settlement. Under this agreement, petitioner would retain the position of elementary principal but be assigned as vice principal of the high school. Respondent would withdraw its appeal and petitioner would not pursue implementation of the order to have him reinstated. The proposed settlement was submitted to the State Board for approval. The State Board rejected the settlement as being in contravention of the school laws. Petitioner State of New Jersey 11 could not be employed in the position of vice principal while holding the separately tenurable title of principal, so that petitioner would continue to accrue tenure and receive benefits as a principal. The parties could, however, reach an agreement for petitioner's transfer to the position of vice principal, so long as such agreement properly designated the position and assignment. Accordingly, the proposed settlement was declared null and void. The decision of the Com- missioner of Education was affirmed. Robert M. Schwartz, Esq., for petitioner Nathanya G. Simon, Esq., for respondent (Schwartz, Pisano & Edel- stein, P.C.)
Rule(s) Cited: 6:11-3.6