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NJ Open Government Notes

Names of fired public employees, identified only by their employee numbers, can be obtained through OPRA.

The minutes of some public agencies, often school districts, refer to agency employees by number rather than by name.  For example, the Perth Amboy (Middlesex County) school board’s November 2, 2017 meeting minutes state that a majority of the Board (Board members Obdulia Gonzalez and Anton Massopust voted “no”) voted to terminate “employee #XXX671” and “employee #XXX985.”  This makes it difficult for the public to know which employees have been fired.  (Interestingly, the agenda of the same meeting stated that the Board had planned on approving “a settlement agreement and release agreement” for the same two employees.)

Section 10 of the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), fortunately, requires that “an individual’s name, title, position, salary, payroll record, length of service, date of separation and the reason therefor, and the amount and type of any pension received shall be a government record.”  This means that in most cases a person can obtain the name of an employee by making an OPRA request even if the agency tries to obscure the employee’s identity in its meeting minutes.

In this case, my non-profit submitted an OPRA request seeking the following:

1. For employee #XXX671, his or her “name, title, position, salary, length of service, date of separation and the reason therefor.” See N.J.S.A. 47:1A-10.

2. For employee #XXX985, his or her “name, title, position, salary, length of service, date of separation and the reason therefor.” See N.J.S.A. 47:1A-10.

The custodian’s response, which is on-line here, contains the full names, ending salaries and years served by the School Security Officer and Custodian who were “terminated for cause.” 

By John Paff

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project