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Evaul v. Board of Education

Decided: June 30, 1961.

FLORENCE S. EVAUL, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CAMDEN, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



For reversal -- Chief Justice Weintraub, and Justices Jacobs, Francis, Proctor, Hall, Schettino and Haneman. For affirmance -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Proctor, J.

Proctor

Appellant, Florence Evaul, is a former Camden public school teacher. Her employment with the Camden school system was terminated on March 13, 1959, when the respondent Board of Education accepted her alleged offer to resign. On her successive appeals, the Commissioner of Education, the State Board of Education, and the Appellate Division (65 N.J. Super. 68 (1961)) upheld the validity of her release. Since one judge of the Appellate Division dissented, she appeals to this court as of right. R.R. 1:2-1(b).

The facts necessary to understand how and why appellant's employment was terminated are as follows:

Miss Evaul was a teacher in the Camden school system from 1934 to March 13, 1959. In 1937 she acquired tenure, see N.J.S.A. 18:13-16, and, in due course, seniority and pension rights. During her twenty-five years of service no charges were ever preferred against her; nor was she ever suspended.

For some time prior to her release, Miss Evaul taught English at Woodrow Wilson High School. The record does not clearly disclose the nature of her relationship with other faculty members. She testified before the Commissioner that she never had any serious clashes or disputes with colleagues. On the other hand, the school Principal testified that she did. It is clear that appellant believed she was overloaded with work; for at some point she complained to the Superintendent of Schools and the President of the Board of Education about the extent of her curricular and extra-curricular duties.

On the morning of March 13, 1959, appellant informed her department head that fellow teachers who were preparing a departmental notebook were not reporting the activities of appellant's pupils. The department head replied, in effect, that the others were at least undertaking a chore which appellant had declined. Appellant said she was sorry she could not assist because of her heavy program, and that

the Superintendent and President had asked why the department head did not provide appellant with assistance. With that, the department head began to cry and said, "You have certainly put me in a position" (apparently implying that appellant's request to the school officials had adversely reflected upon the department head's performance of her duties). Later in the morning, appellant sent a note to the department head which read as follows:

"Grace,

3/13/59:

Just one thing. I was as amazed as you are that the Bd Pres. & Supt. should have expected you to do something to help me. Ordinarily, I get help from no one. But, more important I did not bring up anything about you.

Florence

I have appreciated your sympathy but I ...


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