On appeal from State Board of Education.
Matthews, Antell and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Matthews, P.J.A.D.
High school sophomores in the Parsippany-Troy Hills School District are required to attend for credit five weeks of classroom instruction in driver education. Behind-the-wheel training is offered after school, evenings and weekends by the Adult Evening School for a $105 fee. The Education Association appeals from the State Board of Education's reversal of the administrative law judge's decision. The Association contends that driver education is an essential part of a constitutionally-mandated thorough and efficient education and that the program may not be bifurcated with the behind-the-wheel portion offered on a fee basis by the Adult Evening School.
We are being asked to decide the degree of control a local board of education has over a driver education program in its
high school. Does the Thorough and Efficient Clause (T & E) of the State Constitution require the board to offer driver education? If not, but the board chooses to require all students to take a classroom driver education program, does the T & E Clause mandate that the board also provide behind-the-wheel training? If not, may the board choose to provide behind-the-wheel training under the auspices of its Adult Education School for $105, taught either after school and on Saturdays by state-"certified" teachers or in the evening by a professional driving school?
The administrative law judge summarized his conclusions as follows:
1. The Board's failure to provide behind-the-wheel instruction in driver education in the regular school curriculum does not constitute a denial of a thorough and efficient education;
2. The classroom instruction in driver education is an integral part of the health program, which is an integral part of the required physical education program, which is an integral part of the school curriculum;
3. Behind-the-wheel training is an integral part of the driver education program;
4. The Board may bifurcate behind-the-wheel training from its curricular offerings incorporated in the regular school day, assuming proper supervision and the use of certified teachers, and
5. The Board may not charge a tuition fee for pupils participating in the behind-the-wheel training program.
Issues presented in this appeal by the Association exactly parallel these ...