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Filing a Notice of Appeal with the Department of Education: What You Must Do Before Its Too Late

knowledge-1052011__180New Jersey’s Department of Education has issued regulations which govern “controversies and disputes” with public employees such teachers and principals.  The “controversies and disputes” cover a wide variety of issues including but not limited to the State Board of Examiner’s (“Board’s”) decision to block, revoke, or suspend a teacher’s certificate.

If you are faced with such a controversy or dispute or have been adversely affected by a  decision from the Board or other agency, these regulations provide a legal right to challenge the decision through a petition of appeal.  The petition of appeal must be filed in the specific format and must be filed within the time limitations provided under N.J.A.C. §6A:3-1.3(i).  Failing to strictly comply with these requirements may prevent you from challenging the Board’s or other agency’s decision or order.

The time period to file a petition of appeal begins from the date you receive a notice of “a final order, ruling or other action” by the Board, a board of education, or other agency.  The notice of the final decision must set forth the facts that you have a right to know which the decision is based on.  However, the notice may not be clear that the decision is final or provide you with information regarding your right to file a petition of appeal.  Therefore, it is extremely important that you address any notice of a decision that affects your employment promptly and seek legal counsel regarding your rights to appeal before they are time barred.

From the date you receive notice of the final decision, you are generally given 90 days to file a petition of appeal.  This is referred to as the “90 day rule.”  There are exceptions to the 90 day rule based on statute or regulation, which can either shorten or lengthen the time to file an appeal.

The 90 day rule is usually strictly enforced.  If you do not file a petition of appeal which meets the requirements, you run the risk of waiving your right to challenge the Board’s or other agency’s final decision.  Nevertheless, the 90 day  rule may be relaxed if the 90 day time limitation is deemed inappropriate, unnecessary or will cause an injustice to the particular petitioner.  While this regulation allows for the 90 day rule to be relaxed, it will not protect you if you simply have slumbered on your right to appeal.

In addition to the time limitations, your petition of appeal must substantially comply with the format set forth in the regulations.  A petition of appeal must contain:

  • Your name and contact information including your address and telephone number;
  • The name and contact information of the “respondent.” The respondent here is the New Jersey Department of Education, State Board of Examiners;
  • A statement that outlines the specific allegations which were made by the Board, the facts surrounding its decision, the truthfulness of its allegations, and the basis of the controversy;
  • A statement that outlines the relief which you seek; and
  • Your signature or your attorney’s signature.

Your petition of appeal must also be served upon the Board and the Bureau of Controversies and Disputes along with a proof of service.

Therefore, filing a petition of appeal requires you to comply with the time limitations as well as the factual and legal requirements set forth in the above regulations.   Failure to do so risks your ability to challenge a final decision of the Board, a board of education, or other agency.

Our New Jersey employment lawyers can help you file a petition of appeal and represent you going forward in your appeal.  Call us at (973) 890-0004 or e-mail us to schedule a consultation to speak with one of our New Jersey employment attorneys.

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