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Clifton Board of Education v. Clifton Teachers Association

Decided: December 13, 1977.

CLIFTON BOARD OF EDUCATION, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CLIFTON TEACHERS ASSOCIATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Lynch, Bischoff and Kole.

Per Curiam

Defendant Clifton Teachers Association (Association) appeals from an order permanently enjoining the arbitration of a contested issue.

The Association and the Clifton Board of Education (Board) are parties to a collective bargaining agreement effective July 1, 1975 to July 1, 1977. Prior to negotiation of the contract it had been the practice of the Board to evaluate the performance of nontenured teachers three times a year and tenured teachers two times a year. The contract contained provisions concerning this evaluation procedure.

During the '75-'76 school year, while negotiations for the subject contract were in progress, some of the teachers (members of the Association) refused to perform some professional duties, such as participation in PTA meetings, remedial reading instruction, home and school meetings and others.

This "job action" was undertaken at the instigation of the Association in order to apply pressure on the Board in the contract negotiations.

The Board, perceiving the action taken by the teachers to be illegal, sent a memorandum to all principals instructing them to notify all teachers that the continuation of any such job action would be noted on the teachers' individual evaluation form. The job action continued, with the result that notations were made on some teachers' evaluation forms concerning their participation therein.

The Association instituted grievance procedures alleging that this action of the Board violated the contract in four specific areas: (1) preamble, (2) personal and academic freedom, (3) teacher evaluation and (4) teacher rights. The grievance was denied at all levels. The Association then filed a demand for binding arbitration, the final level of the grievance procedure.

The nature of the dispute alleged was:

The improper administration and interpretation of the teacher evaluation procedure and other related contract provisions.

The remedy sought was removal from the teachers' forms of the notations as to participation in the alleged job action. The Board filed a complaint seeking an injunction against arbitration, and following a hearing an order was entered permanently enjoining the arbitration. This appeal by the Association followed.

The duty to arbitrate springs from contract, and the parties can only be compelled to arbitrate those matters which are within the scope of the arbitration clause of their contract. Moreira Constr. Co., Inc. v. Wayne Tp. , 98 N.J. Super. 570 (App. Div. 1968), certif. den. 51 N.J. 467 (1968); Wm. J. Burns, etc., Inc. v. N.J. Guards Union, Inc. , 64 N.J. Super. 301 (App. Div. 1960), certif. den. 34 N.J. 464 ...


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