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13 N.J.A.R. 566

Shankar, Amitabh v. Bd. of Ed. of New Brunswick
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Citation: 13 N.J.A.R. 566
Decision Date: 1989
Synopsis: Petitioner had the highest grade point average in his high school graduating class but was not named valedictorian because he had attended the school for only two years. Respondent claimed it had a policy requiring the valedictorian and salutatorian to have attended the school for at least three years. Petitioner sought an order directing respondent to name him valedictorian. The matter was transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing. The administrative law judge assigned to the case found that the residency requirement was not in effect until after petitioner entered the school and should not be applied retroactively to petitioner. While respondent may have believed there was such an unwritten policy, it had not been applied and was unknown to students. The judge said the policy was in effect only after the district superintendent described it to the board of education. The judge also concluded that it was unfair to penalize the top-ranked student who had been at the school for four years. Therefore, he recommended that petitioner and the other top-ranked student be named co-valedictorians and share a scholarship awarded to the valedictorian of the school. Upon review, this initial decision was adopted in part and rejected in part by the Commissioner of Education. The Commissioner held that the residency' requirement was not in effect and not enforceable. Although such a policy would not be unreasonable, formal board resolution was required to put the policy in effect. In addition, the policy could not be enforced until all students were informed of the policy. The Commissioner agreed with the administrative law judge that in this case petitioner and the other top-ranked student should be co-valedictorians and share the scholarship. State of New Jersey 567 Martin Perez, Esq., for petitioner Ralph F. Stanzione, Jr., Esq. for respondent