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Steck v. Board of Education

Decided: August 14, 1939.

MALCOLM M. STECK ET AL., PETITIONERS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CAMDEN, RESPONDENT-PROSECUTOR



On certiorari.

For the prosecutor, Firmin Michel.

For the respondents, Meyer L. Sakin.

Before Justices Parker, Bodine and Perskie.

Perskie

The opinion of the court was delivered by

PERSKIE, J. We are concerned, in this cause, with the question of salaries which the Board of Education of the city of Camden, under the stipulated facts submitted, was obliged to pay to its school teachers after July 1st, 1937.

By chapter 243, Pamph. L. 1909, p. 398, as amended and supplemented, now R.S. 18:13-16, "the services of all teachers * * * shall be during good behavior and efficiency, after the expiration of a period of employment of three years in that district, unless a shorter period is fixed by the employing board * * *."

By R.S. 18:13-17, "no teacher * * * shall be * * * subject to a reduction of salary * * * except for inefficiency, incapacity, conduct unbecoming a teacher or other just cause, and after a written charge of the cause or causes has been preferred against him * * * and after the charge has been examined and found true in fact by the board of education upon reasonable notice to the person charged who may be represented by counsel at the hearing. * * *"

By chapter 12, Pamph. L. 1933, p. 24, the legislature acknowledged the existence of an emergency because of economic conditions, and, therefore, empowered the board of education of every school district in this state "to fix and determine" salaries to be paid officers and employes for the period July 1st, 1933, to July 1st, 1934, "notwithstanding any such person be under tenure or not." That power was not unrestricted. For the legislature prohibited reductions from certain minimum salaries; it prohibited "discrimination among or between individuals in the same class of service;" it fixed a minimum of salary which could not be reduced; and additionally permitted each teacher who was a member of a pension fund to continue paying into said fund the same amount as if the salary of said teacher had not been changed,

and further preserved to the teacher or his beneficiary the resultant benefits flowing from such payments. The act of 1933, supra, was subsequently amended and as a result thereof the power to reduce salaries of teachers was extended to July 1st, 1937. Chapter 6, Pamph. L. 1935, p. 16; chapter 27, Pamph. L. 1936, p. 42.

Pursuant to the power thus granted the Board of Education of the city of Camden, hereinafter referred to as prosecutor, fixed and determined, by resolutions, the salaries of its school teachers by reducing them on a percentage basis for the period between July 1st, 1933, to July 1st, 1937.

Despite the lack of legislative sanction to reduce salaries of teachers after July 1st, 1937, as provided in the enabling acts of 1933, 1935 and 1936, supra, prosecutor adopted two resolutions reducing the salaries of its teachers for the school years of July ...


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