Scarinci Hollenbeck Successful for Jersey City Board of Education

Scarinci Hollenbeck Successful for Jersey City Board of Education

In an opinion that was approved for publication on May 12, 2011, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court agreed with the arguments advanced by Scarinci Hollenbeck on behalf of its client, the Jersey City Board of Education. The magnitude of this decision is significant because it will impact not only Jersey City, but other school districts in the State as well.

In Headen v. Jersey City Board of Education, the issue presented on appeal was whether school districts that have adopted the New Jersey Civil Service Act should be required to extend vacation leave to the district's 10-month food service employees. The Plaintiff, Patricia Headen, argued she was entitled to additional vacation leave because she fell within the parameters of the statute governing vacation leave for "full-time political sub-division" civil servant employees. Scarinci Hollenbeck argued that the statute does not apply to 10-month school district employees and that instead the Plaintiff's employment is governed by Title 18A (statutes regarding the administration and operation of New Jersey's public school systems). Further, Scarinci Hollenbeck argued that the term "political subdivision" was intended by the Legislature to be distinct from "school district."

The Appellate Division agreed with the position argued by Scarinci Hollenbeck. The Appellate Division concluded that the statute addressed to full-time state and political subdivision employees was not intended to include local school district employees whose employment is subject to the provisions of Title 18A, and whose leave is defined by the terms of the applicable collectively negotiated agreements. There was no legislative intent to include 10-month school district employees within the scope of coverage of the New Jersey Civil Service Act. If the Legislature intended to apply a provision for vacation leave to a school district, it could have included such a reference. Further, the Appellate Division deferred to local negotiations, i.e., longstanding practice to include time off from work for public school employees through built-in school breaks.

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