SAYREVILLE – Sayreville Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick has filed legal action against the Sayreville School District Board of Education over allegations that her salary increment as a district teacher was improperly withheld.
Kilpatrick, who is a language arts teacher at the Sayreville Middle School, filed her complaint in New Jersey Superior Court on July 30. The complaint follows a board vote on June 15 that withheld her salary increment and employment adjustment increment for the 2021-22 school year.
As noted in the complaint, Kilpatrick had exercised her right to have her employment discussed in public instead of private. Board members did not discuss the salary increment withholding prior to their vote; the complaint alleges that they were required to do so.
“The board’s failure to publicly address Kilpatrick’s increment despite her timely requesting of the issue to be discussed during public session was in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act,” the complaint reads.
In her complaint, Kilpatrick is requesting an order that finds the board’s action on her to be void due to the alleged Open Public Meetings Act violation. Kilpatrick is also requesting an order requiring the board to provide back pay and other benefits that resulted from the vote to withhold her 2021-22 salary increment.
The withholding of Kilpatrick’s salary increment was met with objection from residents who spoke during the public portion of the June 15 meeting. Residents pointed out that she had contracted coronavirus, which caused her to be absent from the district.
On the motion to withhold the salary increment, board President Anthony Esposito, Vice President John Walsh and board members Eloy Fernandez, Eileen Pabon and Patrick Walsh voted in the affirmative. Board members Daniel Balka, Lucy Bloom, Carrie Kenny and Alison Napolitano abstained.
Kenny acknowledged that her abstention was due to the board not answering questions on the topic before voting.
Following the board’s vote, Superintendent of Schools Richard Labbe stated that Kilpatrick’s salary increment withholding was recommended because of professional conduct and performance related reasons. He also stated that the matter was not discussed in private session.
“[The reasons] stemmed from not posting lesson plans and student grades for an extended period of time, not attending parent student conferences and not informing her supervisor of that nor providing her parents with that information, not taking student attendance, conducting herself in an unprofessional and inappropriate meeting with administration, and finally, for not working on nine days in which she failed to notify her immediate supervisor or follow the procedures in policy in terms of calling out sick,” the superintendent said.