On appeal from a Final Decision of the State Board of Education.
Before Judges Petrella, Havey and Cuff.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
This is an appeal by the Board of Education of the Union County Regional High School District #1 (Board) from a decision by the State Board of Education (State Board). The State Board upheld the decision of the Commissioner of Education (Commissioner) that Arthur Krupp should have been appointed girls' basketball coach at Johnson Regional High School for the 1990-1991 school year.
On its appeal the Board argues: (1) local boards of education have full discretion over the appointment of coaches and, in the matter sub judice, the Board exercised sound educational judgment in denying Krupp the coaching appointment; (2) contrary to the holdings below, denial of the coaching appointment to Krupp did not violate N.J.A.C. 6:29-3.3, as he did not satisfy the appointment qualifications; (3) Krupp's voluntary resignation from a similar coaching position in the district constituted a waiver of any-rights otherwise held to the sought-after position; (4) N.J.A.C. 6:29-3.3 unlawfully deprives local boards of education of statutory authority in matters of school district management and personnel (not raised below); and (5) the award of monetary damages was improper because Krupp failed to adequately mitigate damages.
Krupp filed a petition with the Commissioner contending that the Board violated N.J.A.C. 6:29-3.3 when it did not appoint him to an available coaching position that he sought within the district. Although the Commissioner initially dismissed Krupp's petition as untimely, the State Board overruled the Commissioner and found sufficient cause existed to relax the limitations period. The Commissioner then transmitted the case to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for a hearing.
An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found after a hearing that: (1) the Board violated N.J.A.C. 6:29-3.3 when it hired a qualified, certified extra-district teacher to the coaching position within the district; and (2) Krupp was entitled to compensatory damages of $4,550, the amount paid to the extra-district coach hired for that season. The Commissioner adopted the ALJ's findings and Conclusions, and the State Board affirmed the Commissioner's decision.
At the time relevant to the dispute, four high schools were administered by the Board in the district, which included the municipalities of Berkeley Heights, Mountainside, Garwood, Kenilworth, Clark, and Springfield. Only three high schools remain open, Jonathan Dayton (Dayton) in Springfield, Arthur L. Johnson (Johnson) in Clark, and Governor Livingston in Berkeley Heights. Krupp is a tenured teacher and has been assigned to Dayton since approximately 1965.
Varsity girls' basketball is an interscholastic athletic program offered at both Dayton and Johnson. Krupp was the head coach for girls' basketball at Dayton for several school years through the 1989-90 winter athletic season.
For the 1990-91 athletic season the position of head basketball coach at Johnson was open and a notice was posted to this effect on February 9, 1990. On February 13, 1990, Krupp gave the athletic director at Dayton a brief, hand-written notice stating that he did not want to be reappointed as Dayton's head coach for the 1990-91 season. Krupp indicated that he voluntarily relinquished reappointment because, in part, he had become tired of coaching three high school athletic programs. This was subsequently noted in the yearly coaching evaluation report completed by Dayton's athletic director and Dayton's principal. Krupp signed the report.
Nonetheless, sometime shortly after February 20, 1990, Krupp told the athletic director at Johnson that he wanted to coach girls' basketball at Johnson for the 1990-91 season. Krupp pursued his interest in the head girls' basketball coach position at Johnson and believed he would be appointed to it because neither the Board
nor Johnson's athletic director had informed him that he would not be appointed.
On September 16, 1990, the Board advertised for a head girls' basketball coach. Kathy Hodic, an extra-district qualified, certified teacher, who had served as assistant girls' basketball coach at Dayton during the 1989-90 season, applied for the head coach position at Dayton for the 1990-91 season. Krupp and Walter Hennessy, an extra-district, certified ...