- By Monica D. Palestis, Esq.
Updated: Feb 3, 2020
The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) found and the Commissioner of Education agreed that the Board of Education of the Twp. Of Monroe did not act in an arbitrary and capricious manner when it appointed Mr. Anthony Ayers to fill a Board Vacancy. Lewis-Gallagher v. Bd. of Educ. of the Twp. Of Monroe, Gloucester County, OAL Dkt. No. EDU 02437-18, Agency Dkt. No. 14-1/18.
Petitioner alleged that the Board illegally appointed Mr. Ayers in violation of the School Ethics Act, N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24.1. The matter was transmitted to the OAL on February 14, 2018. Subsequently a series of telephone conferences were scheduled, and Petitioner was informed that she had to file documentation or a responsive brief no later than April 23, 2018. She did not. A hearing was to be held on May 2, 2018. Petitioner requested an adjournment and Respondent agreed and requested that its Motion to Dismiss in Lieu of an Answer be decided by the Court on its moving papers. The hearing was rescheduled for May 29, 2018 and Petitioner failed to appear. Thereafter, the Court determined it would decide Respondent’s motion on the moving papers.
Petitioner alleged three violations of the School Ethics Act and Board Policy #162: (1) that the board did not publish the notice of a special meeting in two newspapers; (2) that no special accommodations were made for public who were unable to attend the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting in December; and (3) the Board acted improperly when there were two potential candidates for the Board and the Board only voted on one.
The Court found all three arguments unpersuasive. The Court found that Policy #162, requiring notice in two newspapers, does not apply when a vote is taken at a regularly scheduled meeting which has already been publicized. Regarding special accommodations, the Court indicated that Petitioner cited no statutory or regulatory requirements for the Board to schedule a vote “for times convenient to every member of the public.” As to voting on only one candidate, the Court stated because the first candidate received a unanimous vote, there was no need for the board to vote on the second candidate. As a result, the Court granted the Board’s Motion to Dismiss in Lieu of an Answer and Dismissed the Petition.
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