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MOZIER v. BOARD OF EDUC. OF CHERRY HILL

August 19, 1977

Dennis MOZIER, Plaintiff,
v.
The BOARD OF EDUCATION OF the TOWNSHIP OF CHERRY HILL, COUNTY OF CAMDEN, Sidney Ruby, Mimi Joy Standish, Richard M. Austin, James G. Marino, Sylvia Mishbin, Dr. Jonas C. Morris, Edmunds Rhoad, Ruth Ann Willsey, and Dr. Leonard Wollack, Individually and as Members of the Board of Education of the Township of Cherry Hill, and William A. Shine, Individually and as Superintendent of Schools of the Township of Cherry Hill, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BROTMAN

 BROTMAN, District Judge.

 In this civil rights suit plaintiff Dennis Mozier challenges the termination of his employment as a teacher with the Cherry Hill Board of Education. Named as defendants are the Cherry Hill Board of Education, individual members of the Board, and the Superintendent of the Cherry Hill School District.

 In seeking damages, reinstatement and other relief, plaintiff urges that the termination deprived him of constitutionally protected liberty and property interests. In this respect plaintiff urges that the termination violated his rights both to procedural and substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.

 On June 7, 1977 a hearing was scheduled on an order to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not issue. Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 65(a)(2) that hearing was consolidated with the trial on the merits. With the consent of counsel such consolidation was limited to the question of injunctive relief; the question of damages was reserved for further proceedings.

 The court makes the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law:

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. Plaintiff Dennis Mozier was employed as a non-tenured teacher by the Board of Education of the Township of Cherry Hill (hereinafter "Board" or "Board of Education") under successive contracts of employment for the 1975-1976 and 1976-1977 school years (Tr. 6 morning session (hereinafter M.S.); 14 M.S.).

 2. July 22, 1975 plaintiff signed a contract of employment as a teacher of science with the Board of Education for the 1975-1976 school year (D-1).

 3. Plaintiff received three evaluations during the 1975-1976 school year relating to his teaching performance (P-2). All were of a positive nature.

 4. On August 17, 1976 plaintiff signed a contract of employment as a teacher of science and social studies with the Board of Education for the 1976-1977 school year (P-3).

 5. Plaintiff did not receive evaluations for the portion of the 1976-1977 school year he was employed by the Board of Education (Tr. 20 M.S.).

 6. Plaintiff's employment contracts for the school years 1975-1976 and 1976-1977 each contained the following language:

 
It is hereby agreed by the parties hereto that this contract may at any time be terminated by either party given to the other sixty (60) days notice in writing of intention to terminate the same, but that in the absence of any provision herein for a definite number of days notice the contract shall run for the full term named above (P-3, D-1).

 8. During the 1976-1977 contract year, the Board of Education entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the Cherry Hill Education Association. Article IVB of the negotiated agreement provides:

 
No teacher shall be disciplined, reduced in rank or compensation or deprived of any professional advantage without just cause. Any such action asserted by the Board, or any agent or representative thereof, shall be subject to the grievance procedure and the limitations as set forth in Article III, paragraph A.

 9. On November 17, 1976 plaintiff was asked to report to the office of Dr. William A. Shine, Superintendent of the Cherry Hill School District (hereinafter "Superintendent Shine"). Superintendent Shine informed plaintiff that he was suspended without pay, effective immediately, and that he should not report back to school in any teaching capacity (Tr. 17 M.S.).

 10. Later that day Superintendent Shine advised plaintiff, by hand delivered letter, to meet with him at a future date

 
"to review . . . the matters listed which could result in the termination of [his] employment as a teacher in the School District of Cherry Hill.
 
1. [Plaintiff's] alleged past criminal record.
 
2. Recent alleged police report of criminal activities" (P-4).

 The letter reiterated plaintiff's immediate suspension.

 11. On December 3, 1976, the aforementioned meeting was held in Superintendent Shine's office. Present at the meeting were plaintiff; plaintiff's attorney, Joseph T. Sherman, Esq.; Superintendent Shine; an attorney representing the Board of Education; and William ...


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