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Phelps v. State Board of Education

Decided: July 26, 1935.

JAY B. PHELPS, PROSECUTOR,
v.
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION ET AL., DEFENDANTS; LUCY ASKAM ET AL., PROSECUTOR, V. STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION ET AL., DEFENDANTS



On certiorari.

For the prosecutors, Robert H. McCarter (Ward J. Herbert, on the brief).

For the defendants, Raymond J. Otis.

Before Justices Parker, Case and Bodine.

Parker

The opinion of the court was delivered by

PARKER, J. These two writs of certiorari bring up decisions of the state board of education, affirming on appeal decisions of the state commissioner of education which dismissed appeals of the several prosecutors challenging a resolution of the board of education of West New York in Hudson county, dated June 23d, 1933, which provided for certain reductions beginning July 1st, 1933, in salaries of the superintendent of schools, principals, supervisors and teachers, by percentages varying according to amount of salary; also a resolution readjusting the salaries of certain named clerks at certain stated figures. The commissioner of education dismissed the appeals before him on July 18th, 1934: the state board affirmed on February 9th, 1935.

The resolution first mentioned, relating to those having the status of teachers, is founded on chapter 12 of the laws of 1933 (Pamph. L., p. 24; N.J. Stat. Annual 1933, p. 410, ยง 185-225b), entitled "An act respecting the salaries or compensation of officers and employes, and persons holding positions in the several school districts of this state." This act contains the following preamble:

"Whereas, due to present economic conditions, an emergency exists which requires that the board of education of every school district in this state be enabled to fix and determine, by resolution, the amount of salary or compensation to be paid to officers and employes of and persons holding positions in any such school district;" and proceeds to enact that

"The board of education of every school district in this state shall have full authority, by resolution, to fix and determine the salaries and compensation to be paid to officers and employes of and persons holding positions in any such school district, between the first day of July, 1933, and the first day of July, 1934, notwithstanding any such person be under

tenure or not." There are certain provisos not here material, viz., that there shall be no increase of pay during the year; that rights in the pension fund remain unaffected; that the existing minimum salary of teachers of $70 per month remain unchanged; and a further proviso, relied on by prosecutors as part of their case, "that in fixing salaries or compensation there shall be no discrimination among or between individuals in the same class of service." Section 2 provides that nothing in the act "shall be construed to affect or impair the continuity of position or employment under any tenure of office statute."

The resolution of June 23d, 1933, relating to teachers reads as follows:

"Resolved, that between July 1st, 1933, and July 1st, 1934, the salaries of the superintendent of schools and of all principals, supervisors and teachers in the West New York school ...


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