On June 8, 2009, 2009, the Appellate Division decided In the Matter of Tanya Johnson, Docket No.: A-0482-07T2. In the case, Tanya Johnson appealed from a final decision of the Merit System Board (“Board”) terminating her employment as a parole officer recruit.

In her position as a recruit, Johnson was required to complete a Police Training Commission (“PTC”) course. She began the basic course on January 9, 2006. On March 24, 2006, she failed a test for unarmed defensive tactics. She was given remediation training, but on March 29, Johnson failed the test again and was dismissed from the PTC course.

On the same date, March 29, 2006, Johnson was served with a notice of dismissal from her position as a parole officer recruit. On March 31, 2006, she was served with a preliminary notice of disciplinary action for failure to comply with N.J.A.C. 4A:2-2.3(a)(11), which required her to successfully complete all of the instructional areas of the training cycle. She was removed effective April 4, 2006, and a departmental hearing was held on July 19, 2006. The charge was sustained.

Johnson appealed to the Department of Corrections (“DOC”) Training Academy on April 20, 2006. The Training Academy, however, was not the proper venue for the appeal and Johnson’s counsel was advised that the appeal had been filed with the wrong party and had to be filed with the PTC. The appeal was not sent to the proper venue until almost a year after her dismissal, however.

Ultimately, the matter was referred to the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) and, thereafter, the appointing authority moved to dismiss on the grounds that the appeal was not timely filed with the PTC. The administrative law judge (“ALJ”) granted the motion and the matter was dismissed with prejudice. Johnson appealed to the Board and the Board affirmed the ALJ’s dismissal of the appeal. However, the Board dismissed the appeal without prejudice. This appeal ensued.

Since the dismissal of the appeal was without prejudice, the Appellate Division held the matter was not ripe for appeal because it did not know whether Johnson was ultimately successful in having the PTC accept her untimely appeal. Although Johnson argued that the Court should order a preliminary hearing on the merits, the Court determined it could not do so since Johnson has not complied with the procedural requirements for an administrative hearing. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the appeal without prejudice because is interlocutory.