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Siri v. Board of Trustees of Teachers'' Pension and Annuity Fund

Decided: February 10, 1993.

WALTER SIRI, CAROLYN MEZZADRI, JOHN BRATOWICZ AND ROBERT SIENKIEWICZ, PETITIONERS-APPELLANTS,
v.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE TEACHERS' PENSION AND ANNUITY FUND, RESPONDENT. CAROLYN NICKLAUS, PETITIONER APPELLANT, V. BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE TEACHERS' PENSION AND ANNUITY FUND, RESPONDENT



On appeal from a Final Administrative Decision of the Board of Trustees of the Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund.

Antell, Dreier and Villanueva. The opinion of the court was delivered by Antell, P.J.A.D.

Antell

These are appeals from determinations by the Board of Trustees ("Board") of the Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund ("TPAF") that certain compensation earned by petitioners is not creditable for purposes of pension benefits. Because they involve common questions of law we have consolidated both appeals for purposes of Disposition. In Siri v. Board of Trustees, petitioners are school teachers who were denied pension credit for compensation received in return for services rendered as department heads. In Nicklaus v. Board of Trustees, petitioner was a school psychologist who was denied pension credit for the increased salary she received when her working requirements were increased from two and half days a week to three days a week.

The Siri Appeal

Petitioners are employed as teachers and held the position of department chairpersons in their respective departments for the academic school years of 1988-89 through 1990-91 at the Henry P. Becton Regional High School in East Rutherford. The

department chairperson position involved administrative and supervisory responsibilities. Appointments thereto, for which application must be made by the teacher, are made on a year-to-year basis by the Board of Education upon recommendation of the Superintendent. Appointment for one year provides no assurance that the appointee will be reappointed in any following year. Compensation for performing the duties of department chairperson is paid in accordance with a salary schedule contained in the collective bargaining agreement between the Carlstadt-East Rutherford Board of Education and the Becton Education Association and is included in the same pay check received by petitioners for their base contractual salary.

According to the uncontradicted evidence, the duties of a department chairperson include: interviewing candidates for teaching positions, supervising classroom teachers, writing and discussing with the teachers evaluations of their performance, overseeing substitute teachers, orientation of new teachers, ordering teaching material such as text books, and checking lesson plans.

Whether or not the department head remuneration is creditable for pension purposes is controlled by N.J.S.A. 18A:66-2(d), which defines "compensation" for purposes of a TPAF pension as

the contractual salary, for services as a teacher as defined in this article, which is in accordance with established salary policies of the member's employer for all employees in the same position but shall not include individual salary adjustments which are granted primarily in anticipation of the member's retirement or additional remuneration for performing temporary or extracurricular duties beyond the regular school day or the regular school year. [(emphasis added).]

The word "teacher" is comprehensively defined by N.J.S.A. 18A:66-2p. to include "any . . . supervisor."

The Board, adopting the recommended decision of an Administrative Law Judge, concluded that petitioners' work as department chairpersons constituted the performance of "temporary or extracurricular duties" for which the compensation received was ...


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