The NJASA Legal Department is here to Offer the
Support You Need to Succeed
I would like to take the opportunity to welcome back all the dedicated educational leaders who make up the New Jersey Association of School Administrators. I would also like to extend a warm welcome to all new members of NJASA. I admire your talents and efforts in shaping the future of education in New Jersey, and I want you to know that the NJASA Legal Department is here to help support and empower you in this mission. As we collectively move forward, it is our sincere hope that the pandemic is indeed in the rearview mirror.
To ensure that our members are well-equipped to tackle the complexities of the educational landscape, NJASA is proud to offer a range of comprehensive legal services. NJASA maintains a staff of three attorneys, all of whom have multiple decades of experience representing NJASA members in matters related to their employment. Below is a sample of some of the services NJASA will provide to eligible members.¹
NJASA, together with the New Jersey School Boards Association, has developed a Model Contract for New Jersey School Administrators. However, the Model Contract is simply a starting point for a more comprehensive review of the professional, legal, and personal issues that need to be considered when developing a contract. NJASA attorneys have experience customizing the contract as necessary based on the needs of each member and his/her district. It is also important for members to understand that there is a Model Contract but not a “standard” contract. No two administrators have identical contracts because many factors need to be considered when customizing a contract. That is why it is essential for every member to receive individualized legal assistance in developing one.
In addition, NJASA will offer, as a courtesy, a review of one contract for an administrator who is becoming a member of NJASA for the first time. While Active Members receive more comprehensive assistance in contract development, a review of a contract is a valuable benefit for those who anticipate becoming NJASA members once they obtain their first administrative positions.
Legal Advice and Assistance in Performing Duties
Under N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-5.2, each school district must adopt, by policy, strategies to minimize the cost of public relations and professional services, including legal services. These strategies must include a maximum dollar limit for these services, and notification to the board if the maximum will be exceeded.² By policy, the board must also establish procedures to ensure prudent use of legal services and a way to track the use of these services.³
To help NJASA Members assist their districts in complying with this regulation, NJASA offers all NJASA active members help to comply with these regulations by utilizing your board’s legal counsel in a more efficient way. First and foremost, NJASA has always provided active members with the ability to contact an NJASA attorney to receive assistance with general legal questions. NJASA attorneys can provide research assistance and help members to have the relevant authority at their fingertips prior to engaging board counsel. NJASA attorneys are available by phone or email every business day to discuss pressing matters with members.
NJASA Legal Research Publications
NJASA also provides, as a “professional source material” through subscription, the NJASA Legal Research Publication Program. Through this program, subscribers receive the NJASA Administrative Guide which provides an in-depth analysis of one legal topic on a monthly basis. Subscribers also receive the School News Briefs, which summarize recent cases in education law, monthly. As part of this program, the Impact on Negotiations, which summarizes PERC cases and court decisions, and the Special Education Bulletin, which summarizes special education cases, are published in alternating months. These publications serve as reference guides and resources for future legal issues that may present themselves, and subscribers are able to log on to the NJASA website and view past issues at any time.
For example, this past summer, subscribers received the three-part summer series which took a comprehensive view of the legal aspects of the position of the Superintendent of Schools. That series explored issues related to the superintendent’s tenure rights, personnel decision-making, contract approval, and other matters related to the superintendent position.
Direct Legal Representation and Advice
As much as we all hope that our members will be able to utilize their talents without impediment, it is a reality of the position that sometimes political and outside influences present roadblocks to success. When this occurs, the NJASA attorneys are available for direct and confidential legal consultations and direct representation. Examples of the type of services provided include representing members in internal investigations, assisting members with board member relations issues, negotiating contractual changes, providing representation in disciplinary actions, and representing members in litigation, in accordance with the NJASA Legal Policies. As many of you have heard me say publicly and privately, I urge every Active Member to contact the NJASA Legal Department whenever you have a sense that a problem is developing. Based on our experience, seeking legal assistance promptly can prevent more significant issues from arising.
As you embark on this new school year, remember that you are not alone. NJASA and its Legal Department are here to support and empower you in your important role as educational leaders. Together, we will continue to assist you in shaping the future of education in New Jersey, while providing you and your students with the best possible opportunities for success.
¹ Eligible members are those who join as Active Administrators, have been a member of NJASA for at least 90 days, and have met other eligibility requirements consistent with the NJASA Legal Policies.
² N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-5.2(a)(1).
³ N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-5.2(a)(2).