Bergenfield Education Association

NJ School Law Highlights

Warning

The information presented on this page is not to be considered official legal advice but is to help enhance your knowledge about you legal rights within the state of NJ.  Other laws and circumstances may be relevant to a particular case.  If you believe you need legal representation in connection with a particular matter concerning your employment contact our NJEA UniServ field representative.  This info can be found on our NJEA Regional Offices Page.

Terms & Conditions of Employment

The board of education must negotiate terms and conditions of employment with the local association recognized as the bargaining agent for your district’s employees.

Initial Salary

Your appointment and salary are made official by action of your local board and must be recorded in the minutes of an official meeting.  Unless the collective bargaining agreement provides for initial placement on the salary guide, (ours does not) the initial placement is determined by the individual and the board. (Title 18a:29-9)

Continuation of Employment

Nontenured teachers must be notified on or before May 15 or their contract status for the following school year. (Title 18a:27-10)  The board must provide either a written offer of employment or written notice that employment will not be offered.  Failure to give either constitutes an offer of employment.  The employee must accept the offer in writing on or before June 1.

Normally, you and your board are both committed to 30 or 60 days notice before you can be released from your contract, depending on the provisions of the locally negotiated contract or your individual contract if you are a non-tenured employee.  A termination clause in the contract applies to the entire school year, including summer months, even though you may not actually report to work during those months.

For teachers failure to fulfill the terms of an existing contract can result in serious professional and personal penalties, including revocation of your license to teach in NJ for up to one year following the violation. (Title 18A:28-8)  Accordingly, before signing a contract with another district, while you are still under contract with the first district, you must give notice as specified in our contract.  If you do not give such notice and the board does not grant early release, you may be subject to suspension of your certificate(s).

Public Holidays

Certified public school staff cannot be required to work on any day declared by law as a public holiday.  However, the local school board may require that the employee make up the day. (Title 18A:25-3)

Withholding Increment

A board may withhold the employee increment, adjustment increment, or both for inefficiency or other good cause.  Any such action may be challengeable through the collective bargaining agreement grievance procedure and arbitration if the board’s motivation is for predominantly disciplinary reasons, and by petition to the Commissioner of Education if it is predominantly performance based reasons. (Title 18:29-14)

Sick Leave

You are guaranteed a minimum of 10 days sick leave each year without loss of pay.  Your association may have collectively bargained for more, so make sure you check your local agreement.  You are entitled to take all sick days at any time during the school year starting with the first day of employment.  However, employees employed for less than a year or on leave for part of the year may be subject to having days prorated.  Unused sick leave is accumulative without limit. (18A:30=2)  If an employee used up annual and accumulated sick leave, the board may continue the individual’s salary either in whole or in part. (18A:30-6)

Maternity

Sick leave for pregnancy disability must be treated in the same manner as any other medical absence.  See our Maternity Leave and FMLA page for further info on this.

Transfer of Days

Any school board may grant the transfer of unused accumulated sick leave days in part or in full from any school district within the state. (Title 18A:30-3.2)

Proof of Illness

A school board may require a physician’s certificate whenever sick leave is used. (Title 18A:30-2.1)

On-the-Job Injury or Illness

A public school employee who incurs an injury or illness arising from his or her employment is, under state education statutes, provided with a leave of absence of up to one year with pay.  Such absences cannot be charged against annual or accumulated sick leave. (Title 18A:30-2.1)

Pupil Discipline

State law prohibits any use of physical force or corporal punishment as a means of disciplining or punishing pupils. (Title 18A:6-1)  Any employee acting within the scope of his or her employment may use a reasonable amount of force necessary (1) quell a disturbance, (2) to obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects held by a student or other person, (3) for self-defense, and (4) to protect persons or property. (Title 18A:6-1)

Child Abuse Charges

1. REMAIN SILENT
2. Contact your local association immediately
3. Put nothing in writing
4. Never sign what someone else writes-up about the incident
5. Do not meet with DYFS without an attorney.
Do not discuss the matter with anyone except an attorney
If someone else is accused and you are being questioned, contact your NJEA UniServ representative immediately.

Right to Representation a.k.a. Weingarten Rights

This pertains to your right to have an Association representative present with you at a meeting that might lead to your being disciplined or terminated.
A script that can be followed:
If this meeting could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my Association representative be present at the meeting.  Without representation, I choose not to answer any questions.
It is often saying too much that gets one in trouble, not saying too little.  Never be afraid to play it safe and ask to have a representative present.

Arrest Reporting Regulations for “Certificate Holders”

MUST report an arrest or indictment for any crime or offense to superintendent within 14 days.  The disposition of any charge in the arrest or indictment within 7 days.

Failure to report may be deemed as “just cause” for disciplinary action.  The state may revoke or suspend your certificate based on demonstrated inefficiency, incapacity, conduct unbecoming a teacher, or other just cause.

Military Service

Public school employees must be granted leave for military service and are entitled to retirement credit and salary placement as if they had been working in the district. (Title 18A:29-11)

NJEA Convention

Under law, teachers and secretaries are granted the right to attend the NJEA Convention without loss of pay. (Title 18A:31-2)

Religious Rights

No inquiry can be made about an employee’s religion

Physical Examination

An annual physical examination can be required of any school employee.  Additionally, a board may require a physical or psychiatric examination whenever, in the board’s judgement, an employee shows evidence of deviation from normal physical or mental health. (Title 18A:16-2)

Suspension

A board may suspend an employee without pay if the tenure charges are certified against the employee or he or she is under indictment.  An employee may be suspended with pay pending further board action by the superintendent in concurrence with the board president. (Title 18A:6-14)