Submitted (A-5527-15) February 1, 2018
appeal from the Commissioner of Education, Agency Docket Nos.
194-7/15 and 206-8/15.
Richard A. Friedman argued the cause for appellant in Docket
No. A-3689-15 (Zazzali, Fagella, Nowak, Kleinbaum &
Friedman, attorneys; Richard A. Friedman, of counsel and on
the briefs; Kaitlyn E. Dunphy and Marissa A. McAleer, on the
C. Liss argued the cause for respondent State-Operated School
District of the City of Newark in Docket No. A-3689-15 (Riker
Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti, LLP, attorneys; Brenda
C. Liss, of counsel and on the brief; Fiona E. Cousland, on
A. Jensen, Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for
respondent Commissioner of Education in Docket No. A-3689-15
(Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General, attorney; Lauren A.
Jensen, on the statement in lieu of brief).
Zazzali, Fagella, Nowak, Kleinbaum & Friedman, attorneys
for appellant in Docket No. A-552 7-15 (Jason E. Sokolowski
and Richard A. Friedman, of counsel and on the briefs;
Kaitlyn E. Dunphy and Marissa A. McAleer, on the briefs).
Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti, LLP, attorneys for
respondent State-Operated School District of the City of
Newark in Docket No. A-5527-15 (Brenda C. Liss, of counsel
and on the brief; Fiona E. Cousland, on the brief).
S. Grewal, Attorney General, attorney for respondent New
Jersey Commissioner of Education in Docket No. A-5527-15
(Lauren A. Jensen, Deputy Attorney General, on the statement
in lieu of brief).
Judges Simonelli, Haas and Rothstadt.
Pugliese v. State-Operated School District of City of
Newark, 44 0 N.J.Super. 501 (App. Div. 2 015), we
vacated and remanded for reconsideration anew an
arbitrator's award sustaining tenure charges against
Felicia Pugliese and Edgard Chavez, appellants in the present
matters. In this appeal, we are asked to construe
N.J.S.A. 18A:6-14 and determine what impact our decision to
remand had on the suspended educators' entitlement to
back pay while the remand was pending. The statute provides
for an educator's suspension without pay for 120 days or
until the issuance of a final determination of the disputed
tenure charges, whichever is sooner. If the matter is not
resolved within 120 days, compensation must resume until a
determination is reached. For the reasons that follow, we
hold that the entitlement to compensation continues under the
statute despite the fact there has been an initial award
terminating employment that was vacated and remanded, without
a dismissal of the tenure charges.
are the facts that give rise to these appeals. In 2012,
Pugliese and Chavez were tenured teachers, employed by
respondent State Operated School District of the City of
Newark (District), and were the subject of tenure charges
filed by their schools' principals. The District
certified the tenure charges and suspended both without pay,
effective September 12, 2012. Arbitration hearings ensued and
on February 6, 2013, an arbitrator issued a decision
sustaining the tenure charges as to Chavez, which was
followed by another arbitrator's decision sustaining the
charges as to Pugliese on February 15, 2013. The arbitrators
terminated both teachers' employment with the District.
On September 16, 2013, the Chancery Division confirmed the
reversed, vacating the arbitrators' awards and remanding
both matters to the Commissioner to either decide certain
legal defenses or delegate their determination to the
arbitrators with instructions as to the proper "legal
standards to [be] utilize[d], after which the arbitrators
[were to] review the facts anew within this legal
framework." Pugliese, ...