FELICIA PUGLIESE VS. STATE-OPERATED SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF NEWARK/ EDGARD CHAVEZ VS. STATE-OPERATED SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF NEWARK
In these appeals from termination, two tenured teachers assert that their legal defenses were not considered by the Commissioner of Education, the arbitrator hearing the case, or the trial court. The arbitration hearings were conducted pursuant to the then-recently enacted Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey Act (TEACHNJ), which replaced Administrative Law Judges with arbitrators and immediate appellate review with trial court review. The evaluations upon which the tenure charges were based took place prior to TEACHNJ.
The matters are remanded for the Commissioner to explicitly decide those legal defenses that the Commissioner does not expressly delegate to the statutorily-mandated arbitrators to decide. The Commissioner must also inform the arbitrators what legal standards to apply to teachers who have received tenure charges after the effective date of TEACHNJ alleging inefficiency occurring prior to the effective date of the statute.