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Victor Eisenberg v. Board of Education of the Borough of Fort Lee

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


July 15, 2011

VICTOR EISENBERG, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE BOROUGH OF FORT LEE, BERGEN COUNTY, RESPONDENT-RESPONDENT.

On appeal from a Final Decision of the New Jersey Commissioner of Education, Docket No. 411-10/01

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 25, 2011

Before Judges Fisher and Simonelli.

In this matter appellant Victor Eisenberg challenges the decision of the Fort Lee Board of Education (Board) not to renew his employment contract for the 2001-2002 school year. Eisenberg appeals from the final agency decision of the Acting Commissioner of Education (Commissioner), which affirmed the initial decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) dismissing Eisenberg's petition of appeal. We affirm.

Eisenberg was employed by the Board as a non-tenured English teacher in the Fort Lee High School beginning in the 1998-1999 school year. He also served as the drama director. The Board determined it would not renew Eisenberg's employment contract for the 2001-2002 school year. Eisenberg appealed the Board's decision, contending school personnel manipulated his personnel file by removing positive evaluations and "papering" the file with memoranda designed to justify the non-renewal. Eisenberg also ostensibly argued that the Board's non-renewal of his contract was arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.

The appeal was transferred to the Office of Administrative Law. A three-day hearing occurred before the ALJ, at which Eisenberg testified and presented documentary evidence. The Board's evidence revealed that Eisenberg's performance as a teacher and drama director was unsatisfactory.

After considering the evidence, the ALJ dismissed Eisenberg's petition, concluding he failed to establish that school personnel manipulated his personnel file, and the Board did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in not renewing his contract.

The Commissioner affirmed the ALJ's decision, concluding that Eisenberg failed to prove there were any documents missing from his personnel file, or the file was manipulated or "papered" with false or unnecessary documents so as to prevent an adequate assessment of his performance as a teacher and drama director. The Commissioner also concluded the Board's decision not to renew Eisenberg's contract was not arbitrary, capricious or otherwise unlawful. This appeal followed.

On appeal, Eisenberg essentially contends that the ALJ's and Commissioner's decisions were against the weight of the evidence. We have considered his arguments in light of the record and applicable legal principles and conclude they are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). We conclude there is sufficient credible evidence in the record as a whole supporting the ALJ's and Commissioner's decisions, In re Taylor, 158 N.J. 644, 656 (1999), and affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by the Commissioner in his final decision dated March 11, 2010.

Affirmed.

20110715

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