On appeal from the Department of Education.
Before Judges Kestin, Cuff and Axelrad.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kestin, P.J.A.D.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted: December 3, 2003
On August 14, 2002, the Assistant Commissioner of Education for Educational Programs and Assessment sent a memorandum to chief school administrators and charter school lead persons on two subjects, one of which was"Mentoring New Teachers in 2002-2003." That portion of the memorandum dealt with"[g]uidelines for mentoring programs in light of the elimination of funding for the program[.]" The stated purpose of the memorandum was"to get critical information out as efficiently as possible[;]... consolidating the information can help us get it to you faster."
By way of background on the subject of mentoring, the memorandum referred to"changes in the mentoring requirements for new teachers... introduced in the 2001-2002 academic year[,]" and described the budgeting program that had been put in place at the time. The memorandum went on to note that the Legislature had eliminated mentoring funds from the Department's proposed budget for the 2002-2003 year. It informed the recipients of the"key points... and guidelines related to them" of an"opinion from the Office of the Attorney General regarding implications for districts."
The memorandum summarized the Attorney General's opinion as"indicat[ing] that the portions of the Administrative Code which are related to the use of state funding for the initiative are suspended; however, those portions related to compliance with the State's licensing code cannot be suspended." The memorandum then outlined the"steps necessary to move forward[,]" clarifying how the funding development would affect administration of the program. This treatment was subdivided into three subtopics.
The first sub-heading was"Submission and Evaluation of Local Mentor Plans." It noted that because of the unavailability of funding,"final submission of district mentor plans will be postponed until fall 2003."
On the subject of"Payment for Mentoring Services[,]" the memorandum outlined existing substantive standards, repeating that those which were"part of state-regulated requirements for licensing... cannot be suspended." Some details were covered, and the memorandum continued:
Fees for mentoring services rendered have been in effect since 1985 and, unless modified by local agreements, these fees continue. It is the districts' responsibility to ensure that these payments are satisfied in one or more of the following ways:
1. Revert to prior practices under which the provisional teacher assumes total responsibility for paying the mentor teacher pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6:11-3.2(c);
2. Districts subsidize the payment of mentor teachers through use of district or other funds such as Title II;
3. Districts continue with other arrangements for payment in accord with locally developed agreements.
Finally on the subject of the mentoring program, the memorandum dealt with"Payment for Mentoring Services for Novice Teachers Employed ...