Rice notices need not be given to tenured school board employees

Under New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), a public agency may discuss taking adverse action against a public employee in a closed (executive) meeting unless the employee being discussed exercises his or her right to have the discussion conducted in public.

In order for the employee to meaningfully exercise that right, the public agency is required to give timely notice (i.e. a “Rice” notice, named after the 1977 case of Rice v. Union County Regional High School Board of Education) to any employee whose rights could be adversely affected by the intended private discussion.

In today’s published (and thus precedential) opinion, linked below, the Appellate Division held that tenured board of education employees, unlike other public employees, are governed by the more restrictive Tenured Employees Hearing Law which requires all charges against them to be discussed in private.

Since a tenured employee has no right to force such discussions to a public meeting, the court reasoned, he or she likewise has no right to a Rice notice.