For the prosecutor, Lester C. Leonard.
For the respondents, David T. Wilentz, Lawrence A. Carton and Arthur T. Vanderbilt.
Before Brogan, Chief Justice, and Justice Bodine.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
BODINE, J. The prosecutor of this writ was dismissed as principal of the Middletown Township high school. Written charges were preferred against him. He was accorded a full hearing. The testimony was voluminous and the exhibits many. The action taken was sustained by the Commissioner of Education and by the State Board. The case had previously been remanded to that Board for the reasons stated in Redcay v. State Board of Education, 128 N.J.L. 281. Upon a rehearing, the decision of the Commissioner of Education was affirmed by the State Board with the active participation of the members present.
Prosecutor's counsel argues that his client had a yearly contract for employment as a school principal and that, therefore, he could not, if unfit, be dismissed from his position and certainly not for his conduct prior to the making of that contract on April 1st, 1939.
Mr. Redcay had been principal for about seventeen years. It is clear to us that teachers, who have acquired tenure, are subject to the provisions of the tenure statutes and that all contracts for services are subject to those acts. The school system is a service rendered to those who must attend school. The system cannot function except by the services of capable and efficient principals and teachers.
The proceedings under review were taken pursuant to the school law. It provides that "the services of all teachers, principals and supervising principals of the public schools * * * shall be during good behavior and efficiency" after three years of service in the district (R.S. 18:13-16).
The section authorizing dismissal of such tenure teachers, and under whose provisions prosecutor was dismissed, is as follows: "No teacher, principal, or supervising principal under the tenure referred to in section 18:13-16 of this title shall be dismissed or subjected to a reduction of salary in the school district 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, signed by the person or persons making the same, and filed with the secretary or clerk of the board of education having control of the school in which the service is being rendered, and after the charge has been examined into 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. Charges may be filed by any person, whether a member of the school board or not." R.S. 18:13-17.
The statute lays down the procedure. It was duly followed. The Commissioner and the State Board concurred in the findings. An inefficient and incapable principal may do great injury to both pupils and teachers. When the charges of such conduct have been clearly proved, the ...