A problem our employment attorneys frequently encounter is complaints of nepotism in the hiring and promotion of public school teachers. While the hiring of relatives is not per se illegal in New Jersey public schools, there are significant restrictions on it.
The New Jersey Legislature and the New Jersey Department of Education have passed restrictions limiting nepotism based on the Legislature’s spending power. At the local level, restrictions on nepotism are a requirement for the receipt of state aid. Thus, while nepotism is not “illegal,” anti-nepotism policies are required for the receipt of state aid. Since almost all New Jersey local public schools receive state aid, the restrictions on nepotism are virtually universal. The New Jersey Department of Education’s regulations apply to school districts, charter schools and county vocational school districts. These board of education (or trustees for charter schools) must adopt anti-nepotism policies as a condition for receiving state aid.
The policies adopted under these rules restrict employment practices concerning “relatives” and “immediate family members” of board members and chief administrators. In general, their relatives cannot be employed by the same school district or charter school. Likewise, a chief school administrator may not recommend her own relatives or those of a member of the board of education.