HomeEB SentinelSuperior Court suspends case for Monroe school board lawsuit; refers matter to...

Superior Court suspends case for Monroe school board lawsuit; refers matter to Commissioner of Education

A Middlesex County Superior Court judge has suspended a court case proceeding about the suspension of School Business Administrator Michael Gorski and alleged collusion of some members of the Monroe School Board of Education.

An order from Superior Court judge Michael Toto filed on July 19, states that Toto denied attorneys for the Monroe Board of Education (BOE) motion to dismiss the case and has “stayed” the current case proceeding.

He referred the entire matter to the Commissioner of Education and the School Ethics Committee to resolve issues and stayed the case until those bodies exercised their primary jurisdiction in the matter, according to the order.

Oral arguments from attorneys for Lilian Isaacs, a Monroe resident, were made to hear the case claiming the Monroe BOE had several violations of the state School Ethics Act, due to school board members conflicts of interest regarding Acting Superintendent Chari Chanley and personal vendettas with the suspension of Business Administrator Michael Gorski on July 15.

Attorneys for the Monroe BOE delivered arguments on why the court should dismiss the case.

Lawsuit

Isaacs claimed in a lawsuit filed on June 3 that there were multiple violations of the state School Ethics Act by school board members.

One instance, the complaint claims that when a resolution by the school board was discussed and approved regarding extending Chanley’s employment contract from May 12 through Aug. 12, Board President Chrissy Skurbe, and board members Karen Bierman, Adi Nikitinsky and Ken Chiarella failed to recuse themselves because of conflicts of interests.

Specifically, the complaint points to Skurbe, Nikitinsky and Chiarella have close personal relationships with Chanley, Nikitinsky profited from Chanley’s actions with his personal businesses [Dot Designing and the Orange Media Group], and Bierman paid Chanley’s husband for life coach services for her son in 2021, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that Skurbe, Nikitinsky, Chiarella and others have colluded to stall and stop the district’s search for a new superintendent, so that Chanley can become the permanent superintendent.

Citing a Feb. 16 school board meeting, the lawsuit claims that Skurbe failed to disclose to the public that the New Jersey Acting Commissioner of Education Angelica Allen-McMillan had set a May 12 deadline for the district to employ a permanent superintendent.

Following that meeting, the lawsuit claims the Ad Hoc Committee, established to review superintendent candidates, was dissolved and the school board directed the board attorney to seek a third extension from the Commissioner of Education to fill the position.

The lawsuit alleges it was not until April that the school board requested the New Jersey School Boards Association assistance in compiling resumes.

“Skurbe, Nikitinsky, Chiarella and Bierman have repeatedly stalled the superintendent search waiting for Chanley to receive required educational credits so she can become the permanent superintendent. Despite the best efforts of Skurbe, Nikitinsky, Chiarella and Bierman to install Chanley as permanent superintendent, Chanley has not yet met the educational requirements,” Brian Aloia, Isaacs attorney, wrote in the complaint.

Aloia further wrote that Skurbe, Nikitinsky, Chiarella and Bierman continue to collude and stall the process in favor of Chanley and in violation of the Schools Ethics Act.

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