On appeal from State Board of Education.
Furman, Brody and Scalera. The opinion of the court was delivered by Brody, J.A.D.
[223 NJSuper Page 505] The issue in this appeal is whether a local school board may lawfully adopt a plan, which includes the closing and sale of a school building, by a majority vote of its full membership after
consideration at a single public meeting even though its bylaws require adoption by a 2/3 vote of its full membership after consideration at two public meetings. We hold that the board is not bound by the bylaw that limits the authority of the majority, but is bound by the bylaw that requires two public meetings for adoption of the plan.
The dispute arose when the nine members of the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District Board of Education (the board) voted 5 to 4 to reorganize the school district by adopting "Plan C" (the plan). The cornerstone of the plan is the closing and sale of a school and an administration building in the Borough of Matawan. Closing the school requires relocating students and changing the range of classes in the remaining schools. Adoption of the plan is a matter of substantial local public interest. Petitioners are the union that represents board employees, and 92 resident-taxpayers of the district.
An administrative law judge (ALJ) summarily dismissed the claim that the bylaws barred adoption of the plan. The Commissioner of Education and the State Board of Education affirmed the ALJ's summary dismissal for the reasons he had expressed.
The relevant bylaws provide the following:
No policy*fn2 shall be adopted by the Board until it has received a 2/3 vote of the full Board at two public meetings.
Bylaws shall be adopted, amended or repealed by a 2/3 vote of the full Board.*fn3
Local boards of education "may exercise only those powers granted to them by the Legislature -- either expressly or by necessary or fair implication." Fair Lawn Ed. Assn. v. Fair
Lawn Bd. of Education, 79 N.J. 574, 579 (1979). Boards derive the authority to adopt bylaws from N.J.S.A. 18A:11-1c, which provides that a local board shall
Make, amend and repeal rules, not inconsistent with this title or with the rules of the state board, for its own government and the transaction of its business and for the government and management of the public schools and public school property of the district and for the employment, regulation of conduct and discharge of its employees, subject, where ...