Lawsuit against Montclair BOE dropped
PHOTO BY ERIN ROLL
By ERIN ROLL
A Montclair resident has abandoned a lawsuit alleging the board of education did not adhere to proper procedure on advertising the meeting in which the board voted to appoint a new superintendent.
David Herron filed a lawsuit in Essex County Superior Court on May 25 alleging that the BOE violated the Open Public Meetings Act when it advertised a special meeting on April 11.
It was at that meeting that the board voted to appoint Kendra Johnson as the new superintendent effective in May.
The dismissal comes on the heels of the resignation of board member Franklin Turner. Herron also filed a complaint with the state in May alleging Turner did not meet residency requirements for a BOE member.
Turner resigned as a board member effective Sept. 7 after he purchased a new home outside of Montclair.
Herron filed a motion dismissing the lawsuit on Sept. 7, the day of Turner’s resignation. On Sept. 11, an Essex County Superior Court judge dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning it can't be brought back to court.
Herron said he dropped the suit because to continue would be too costly for himself and for the district.
The suit alleged actions taken at the April 11 meeting were invalid, and should be declared null and void. It also alleged the agenda did not announce a decision would be made regarding Montclair’s superintendent search.
“Board minutes of the April 11, 2018 [meeting] states that ‘On Wednesday, April 11, 2018, notice of the meeting was posted in the Herald News and the Star Ledger. Both ads ran on April 11, 2018, the day of the meeting, violating the required 48-hour notice rule stipulated in N.J.S.A. 10:4-8(d),’” the suit reads.
In August, the BOE’s legal representation filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed with prejudice and for the BOE to be reimbursed for attorney’s fees and costs. The motion denied allegations that the BOE had acted improperly, and claimed that the BOE had advertised the April 11 meeting in compliance with the public meeting act.
Three board members - Eve Robinson, Anne Mernin and Jessica de Koninck - were absent from the April 11 meeting citing scheduling conflicts.
Since Turner is no longer on the board, Herron said, the complaint is now moot.
Priscilla Church will be taking Turner’s place, after she was appointed by Mayor Robert Jackson in May to fill the next board vacancy when it arose. Church is a high school principal in Fort Lee.