News & Events

Schwartz Aids New Jersey Board of Education with a Victory in Appellate Court

Jul 10, 2017 in News by

Partner Stefani C Schwartz was victorious as she secured a win for a New Jersey Board of Education from the Appellate Division. In the Honorable Darrell M. Fineman’s Opinion, affirmed by the Appellate Division this month, he found that the School District could not be held responsible for Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying, the New Jersey Law against Discrimination and reckless endangerment of its students

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NJ Senate Helping to Bridge the Gender Pay Gap

Jun 28, 2017 in News by

New Jersey is one step closer to enacting a new law that will limit the information employers can request and disclose about a worker’s salary history.  On June 26, 2017, the New Jersey Senate gave its final legislative approval to Bill 3480 –  a bill that is intended to promote equal pay for women.  The bill will limit the amount of information employers can request and disclose about a worker’s salary history, and is designed to bridge the gender pay gap between men and women. Currently, New Jersey is one of more than 20 states that are considering such legislation.  Cities and states like New York City, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Philadelphia have already passed similar laws. The Key Terms Of The Bill The New Jersey bill seeks to promote equal pay for women by prohibiting any employer, or employer’s agent, representative, or designee from: asking about or requiring, in writing or otherwise, a current or prospective employee to provide their salary history which includes, but is not limited to, compensation and benefits; or releasing the salary history of any current or former employee without written authorization from the current or former employee; or relying on the job applicant’s salary history at any stage in the hiring process, including finalizing the employment contract; or taking reprisals against any employee for disclosing to any other employee or former employee of the employer information regarding the job title, occupational category, rate of compensation, the gender, race, ethnicity, military status, or national origin of the […]

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Achieve NJ: Components and Changes in Teacher Observations, Student Growth Objectives (SGO) and Corrective Action Plans

Jun 26, 2017 in Articles by

Partner Andrew B. Brown, Esq. has spent his entire legal career working for School Boards in New Jersey.  In this article he shares some guidance on complying with  Achieve NJ. ACHIEVE NJ  Components of New Teacher Evaluations Teacher Practice + (based on classroom   observations)   All Teachers & Principals Student Growth Objective (set by teacher and principal)   All Teachers & Principals Student Growth = Percentile (now based on PARCC)   (Less than 20% of teachers) Summative Rating (overall evaluation score) For tested grades and subjects, which include grades 4th through 8th, LAL and Math*: Teacher Practice accounts for 55% of the Evaluation, SGOs account for 15% of the Evaluation, and SGPs account for 30% of the Evaluation. For non-tested grades and subjects*: Teacher Practice accounts for 85% of the Evaluation, and SGOs account for 15% of the Evaluation.  *These Evaluation Weights are for the 2016-2017 school year Teacher Observations Old procedure v. changes under TEACH NJ Before TEACH NJ, a “long” observation was conducted for a minimum of forty (40) minutes, while a short observation was conducted for a minimum of twenty (20) minutes. This is being changed. There will only be observations for a minimum of twenty minutes. If a non-tenured teacher is present for less than 40 percent of the total student school days in a school year, he or she shall receive at least two (2) observations to earn a teacher practice score. Multiple observers are required when observing non-tenured staff and recommended when observing tenured staff. All […]

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New Jersey Family Leave as It Applies to NJ Public School Employees

Jun 19, 2017 in Articles by

Partner Andrew Brown, Esq. rounds out his multi-part series on seniority, tenure, and leaves of absence.  In this section, he discusses the Board’s obligations as well as the interplay between FMLA and FLA.  Next Week we will be working on Teacher Evaluations. NEW JERSEY FAMILY LEAVE ACT (NJFLA) Entitlements: NJFLA leave is not intended for the employee’s own disability. Rather, it provides that an employee is entitled up to twelve (12) weeks of leave in a twenty-four (24) month period, in order to care for a seriously ill family member or to care for a newborn and/or newly adopted child. N.J.S.A. 34:11B-4. Qualification: “Employee” means a person who is employed for at least 12 months by an employer, with respect to whom benefits are sought under this Act, for not less than 1,000 base hours during the immediately preceding 12-month period. N.J.S.A. 34:11B-3. “Serious health condition” means an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition which requires (1) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility; or (2) continuing medical treatment or continuing supervision by a health care provider. N.J.S.A. 34:11B-3. Interplay Between FMLA and NJFLA  Consecutive Leave v. Concurrent Leave: If the basis for the leave is covered by both statutes, then the leaves run concurrently Maternity leaves: Once FMLA converts from the employee’s own disability, and becomes caring for the child, the remaining FMLA time runs concurrent with the start of the NJFLA period. 30 days before and 30 days after birth, the mother […]

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SSE&C Welcomes Pam Kapsimalis, Esq. as Corporate Law Partner

Jun 8, 2017 in News by

Please join SSE&C in welcoming new Partner Pamela M. Kapsimalis, Esq. to the firm. Pam is a highly experienced corporate attorney for local and global companies. Kapsimalis, has joined SSE&C to help expand the corporate law department, handles all types of corporate and business matters, including sale and lease transactions, structuring and restructuring of businesses, commercial real estate matters, and franchise and financing transactions. commercial, contract, construction, financing, leasing/storage, regulatory, employment and compliance matters. Most recently, she was corporate counsel for Preferred Freezer Services, LLC., of Chatham, a privately held international cold storage and shipping company with 35 facilities and 2,000 employees. In that role, she established the first in-house position to advise the company on many aspects of warehouse, contract, corporate and commercial real estate matters. Throughout her years of experience as both in-house and outside counsel, Kapsimalis counselled a wide variety of clients, ranging from start-up ventures to large public companies. Her clients span a range of industries, from financial services, health care, wellness, product development to  retail. Kapsimalis also serves as a business adviser for her clients, advising them on growth strategies, cyber security and the pros and cons of policies and practices. Her clients span a range of industries, from financial services to health care to retail. In addition, she assists women-owned businesses, from start-ups to franchise agreements. “With her breadth of knowledge and experience, Pamela is an excellent addition to our firm. She knows first-hand, from the inside, the type of legal guidance companies seek […]

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Leaves of Absence for NJ Public School District Employees

May 8, 2017 in Articles by

Public Employees, including School district employees or Board of Education Personnel have guidelines for employees taking leaves of absence.  In this segment, Partner Andrew Brown discuss what a Leave actually is.  He also discusses what the Federal Provision is for Military Leaves.   Next week he will discuss FMLA. LEAVES OF ABSENCE (LOA) What is Leave Generally? N.J.S.A. 18A:30-1 entitles an employee to a minimum of ten (10) sick days per year for use due to his own disability. N.J.S.A. 18A:30-4 permits a Board of Education to require receipt of a doctor’s note in order for an employee to obtain sick leave. N.J.S.A. 18A:30-6 allows a Board of Education to grant extended sick leave to employees who have drained their available leave balances, less the cost of a substitute. N.J.S.A. 18A:6-8.1 and 8.2 also allow certain employees to take leave to serve in the New Jersey Legislature (leave is taken with pay) or on a Board of Chosen Freeholders (leave is taken without pay). Military Leave and its Federal Entitlements The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), 38 U.S.C. §4301, et seq. Pursuant to guidance offered by the Office of the NJ Attorney General, USERRA: Applies to all employers, regardless of size. Covers the employer’s obligation to release an employee for military duty, reemployment requirements upon an employee’s return from military duty or training and prohibits discrimination in initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion or other benefits based on membership or application for membership, service or membership for service […]

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Partner Stephen Edelstein Files Legal Action to Allow Singh to Participate in NJ Gubernatorial Debates

May 5, 2017 in News by

Hirsh Singh, a little-known Republican candidate for New Jersey governor, is suing the state’s Election Law Enforcement Commission, arguing that he deserves a spot in a pair of televised GOP primary debates next month even though he missed a key filing deadline. Singh, a 32-year-old aerospace engineer from Atlantic County who has never run for public office, claims he has raised more than $900,000 in the race, according to a legal brief filed Wednesday in state Superior Court in Trenton. That is more than double the amount hopefuls are required to have in their campaign coffers to participate in the debates, sponsored by ELEC, the state’s election watchdog agency. There was no way to verify Singh’s total Wednesday. Candidates who raised more than $430,000 by April 3 qualified for the state’s matching funds program — in which gubernatorial candidates receive $2 in public money for every $1 they raise. They are then required to participate in the debates. Contenders who do not take matching funds may take part in the debates if they show they have at least $430,000 in campaign cash, either through self-funding or fundraising. The deadline to file that paperwork was April 3, as well. Singh admits he missed that deadline. But in the legal brief, Stephen Edelstein, Singh’s attorney, called that an “innocent mistake of a first-time candidate.” The dates for the N.J. governor primary debates The state released the schedule for the four primary debates in this year’s race to succeed Gov. Chris Christie. Edelstein […]

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Tenure Charges & Seniority in New Jersey Public Schools

Apr 20, 2017 in Articles by

Partner Andrew Brown, Esq. continues in his series on seniority, tenure, and leaves of absence in New Jersey public schools.  Looking for more information?  Contact Andy. Neglect, Misbehavior, or Other Offense: Examples  Secretaries: I/M/O Tenure Charges of Charai Bowman, (S. Wood-Osborn, May 23, 2016): Tenured secretary was charged with conduct unbecoming, neglect of duty, and other just cause for her excessive tardiness, accepting a part-time teaching position with Trenton schools while still retaining her secretary job, and continuously failing to perform her secretarial duties. The Arbitrator upheld the charges and she was dismissed from her Secretarial position in the Trenton School District. Custodians I/M/O Tenure Charges of Marvin Davis (A. Symonette, May 15, 2014): Respondent tenured custodian charged with conduct unbecoming of a staff member by engaging in inappropriate physical contact with students, particularly touching and pulling the hair of several female elementary school students. The Arbitrator upheld the charges and Respondent was dismissed from the Asbury Park School District. PRACTICAL POINTS Make sure that you document everything, including preparing memoranda of verbal warnings and actions. Pay attention to details and be careful in preparing documents. Make sure that the descriptions correspond to the grades that are given to the employee. Follow the procedures. Meet every deadline. Use multiple observers, particularly if a grievance or charges have been filed against an administrator. Avoid comments or discussions that could raise possible political, discrimination or union activity claims. IMPORTANT STEPS FOR FILING TENURE CHARGES BE CLEAR IN YOUR EVALUATIONS. PROVIDE SPECIFIC COMMENTS, […]

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Seniority and Tenure in New Jersey Public Schools

Apr 11, 2017 in Articles by

  Partner Andrew Brown, Esq. is known throughout New Jersey for his knowledge and expertise in Education Law.  In the second of this multi part series, Andy bullet points Seniority and Tenure details for both teaching and non-teaching staff.  The New Jersey Association of School Business Officials recently took advantage of Andy’s expertise by asking him to present this topic to its members.  To view the full presentation, please contact Mr. Brown directly or Michele D. Roemer, Assistant Executive Director of the NJASBO. Calculating Seniority The number of academic or calendar years (or fractions thereof) in a specific district, in specific categories of employment. N.J.A.C. 6A:32-5.1. If a teacher moves to a different category, all employment is credited to the amount of seniority in all relevant categories. N.J.A.C. 6A:32-5.1(b)(h). If a teacher is employed simultaneously in two or more categories or under two or more endorsements, their seniority is counted in all subject area endorsements and categories. N.J.A.C. 6A:32-5.1(f). Leaves of absence may count towards seniority. N.J.A.C. 6A:32-5.1(b): Unpaid absences not exceeding 30 days aggregate in one academic or calendar year. Leaves of absence at full or partial pay. Unpaid absences granted for research. Military service Calculating Seniority: Custodians, Secretaries, and Other Support Staff Custodians: N.J.S.A. 18A:17-4 specifically requires that in the event of a RIF, a Board must dismiss and rehire tenured custodians in order of seniority. Secretaries: Secretaries are not afforded statutory seniority rights; however, many Districts provide seniority rights to secretaries through their CBAs. Districts may also grant seniority rights to otherwise […]

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