Phelps v. Board of Education
300 U.S. 319 (1937)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Phelps v. Board of Education, 300 U.S. 319 (1937)

Phelps v. Board of Education of West New York

No. 454

Argued February 4, 5, 1937

Decided March 1, 1937*

300 U.S. 319

Syllabus

1. Where it is claimed that a contractual right was created by a state statute and impaired by a later one, this Court will give much weight to the construction put upon the earlier statute by the state court, though not bound by it. P. 300 U. S. 322.

2. The provisions of c. 243, New Jersey Laws, 1909, forbidding removal of public school teachers who have served three years, or reduction of their salaries, except for causes specified and after notice and hearing, did not create contracts with individual teachers, but was merely a limitation upon the authority of the boards of education with respect to the tenure and salaries of teachers. P. 300 U. S. 323.

3. The stipulated facts of this case do not show contracts between the boards of education and teachers for service of the teachers beyond the current year. P. 300 U. S. 323.

4. No arbitrary discrimination, violative of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, is attributable to a method of reducing the salaries of school teachers by dividing the salaries into several groups in order of amounts, and applying reduction percentages, ascending from the lowest group to the highest, although it result in some instances that a teacher receiving the lowest salary in his group will have his salary reduced to a figure lower than the reduced compensation of one receiving the highest compensation in the next lower group. P. 300 U. S. 323.

116 N.J.L. 412, 185 Atl. 8; 116 N.J.L. 416, 184 Atl. 737, affirmed.

Appeals from the affirmance by the court below of Judgments of the Supreme Court of New Jersey (115 N.J.L. 310; 180 Atl. 220), which had affirmed, on certiorari, the action of the State Board of Education in a

Page 300 U. S. 320

controversy over reductions in the pay of principals, teachers, and clerks employed in the public schools.

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