On March 2, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education determined that a board of education properly removed one of its own members following that member’s failure to attend at least three consecutive meetings without good cause in contravention of N.J.S.A. 18A:12-3.
In the matter, the board member challenged his removal from the board after he failed to attend four meetings of the board without good cause, one of which was a regular meeting advertised in the board’s annual meeting notice. The other missed meetings were special or workshop meetings that were not in the annual meeting notice.
The board member challenged his removal on the basis that the board’s policy stated that he could only be removed for missing three regular meetings of the board. The administrative law judge rejected the board member’s argument. The ALJ determined that there was no language in N.J.S.A. 18A:12-3 which limits removal of board members to three consecutive regular meetings. Further, the ALJ invalidated the board’s policy concerning removal of board members because the board lacked the authority to limit the removal of members to regular meetings only. The ALJ concluded that “N.J.S.A. 18A:12-3 provides that a board of education is authorized to act if a board member fails to attend three consecutive meetings of the board, without any limitation regarding the meeting’s designation as a “special,” “regular,” or “workshop” meeting.”
The commissioner agreed with the conclusions of the ALJ, stating “the Board properly removed petitioner pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:12-3 based on his failure to attend more than three consecutive meetings of the Board. The statute does not limit missed meetings to “regular” meetings, and the Board’s policy cannot override the authority afforded to it by the statute.” The board member was properly removed by the board in accordance with the requirements of N.J.S.A. 18A:12-3.
Boards are urged to review their removal policies to ensure compliance with the statute. For further information, please contact the NJSBA Legal and Labor Relations Services Department at (609) 278-5254 or your board attorney. For further reading about the board member removal statute, please see an article from the January/February 2017 issue of School Leader entitled “Showing Up.”