On appeal from final decisions of the Board of Review, Department of Labor and Industry.
These appeals were consolidated for submission to the court and involved common questions of law and fact. Appellants are school teachers and they were not covered by the unemployment compensation law at all until the enactment of the Emergency Jobs and Unemployment Assistance Act of 1974, P.L. 93-567, 26 U.S.C.A. § 3304 note (West Cum. Supp. 1978-1979) at 259, as amended by the Emergency Compensation and Special Unemployment Assistance Extension Act of 1975 [SUA], P.L. 94-45. This covered certain public employees, including school teachers, under specified conditions. As to school personnel, the federal act provides:
(b) An individual who performs services in an instructional, research, or principal administrative capacity for an educational institution or agency shall not be eligible to receive a payment of assistance or a waiting period credit with respect to any week commencing during the period between two successive academic years
(or, when the contract provides instead for a similar period between two regular but not successive terms, during such similar period) if
(1) Such individual performed services in any such capacity for any educational institution or agency in the first of such academic years or terms; and
(2) Such individual has a contract to perform services in any such capacity for any educational institution or agency for the later of such academic years or terms. P.L. 93-567, as am. § 203.
Thus, under this act, a teacher employed by a local board of education who performs services in the first of two successive academic years and who has a contract to work the later of such school years is ineligible for unemployment compensation for any week commencing during the period between the end of the first academic year and the beginning of the second.
In all other respects, the federal act requires compliance with the terms and conditions of the state unemployment compensation law.
Appellants were employed as nontenured specialty teachers by the Passaic Board of Education under a federal program known as Title I, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, 20 U.S.C.A. § 236 et seq. [E.S.E.A.]. Holstein had been employed as a teacher of remedial reading for ten years; Calamusa for five years as a bilingual English instructor. On April 12, 1976, pursuant to the notice requirements of N.J.S.A. 18A:27-10 (West Cum. Supp. 1978-1979), appellants received a letter from their employer which stated that their contracts would not be renewed for the 1976-1977 school year because of the uncertainty of availability of federal funding for the E.S.E.A. program. The letter indicated that the uncertainty would not be resolved until the summer of 1976 "when further commitments are usually received." However, it was suggested that appellants "continue in contact" with the school board.
Appellants had received similar notices in prior years and had been rehired as late as August. Indeed, prior to the enactment of the notice ...