Monday, September 24, 2012

School Board Candidates Debate Scheduled for Monday, October 29th at 7pm

Roxbury School Board candidates Garry Defilippis, Michael Gariola and Fran Day have accepted an invitation from the Roxbury TEA Party to debate their opponents on the important issues relating to Roxbury student, parents, taxpayers and voters. 

The debate will be held on Monday, October 29th at 7pm at the Roxbury Public Library located at 103 Main Street in Succasunna.  The debate, which is open to the public, will be moderated by Fred Snowflack, journalist for the Bergen County Record. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Roxbury School Board Candidate Fran Day To Be Honored By The New Jersey Foundation for Open Government

 
Roxbury School Board candidate Fran Day will be honored at the 2012 New Jersey Foundation for Open Government Annual Workshop and Awards Ceremony for her use of the Open Public Records Act to expose excessive and wasteful legal fees authorized by the majority of the Roxbury School Board over the past two years.

In 2010, the majority of the Roxbury School Board attempted to censure school board Maureen Castriotta as a tactic to limit Castriotta's speech as she spoke out against a student walk out. Some say the student walk out was organized by school administration as a response to Governor Christie's budget cuts. 

As a result, the Roxbury School Board spent between 50 and 150 thousand dollars in taxpayer funds for legal fees to censure Ms. Castriotta, and then defend their wrongful actions which were later overturned by an administrative law judge.

The actions were deemed so malicious that now the Roxbury School Board must even reimburse Ms. Castriotta for her own legal fees.

Fran Day was vigorous in finding out just how much money was being wasted as part of this clear attempt to silence those who were opposed to a majority school board many have said is out of touch with the taxpayers of Roxbury. 

Please join us in congratulating Fran on this great achievement.

Fran Day is running with Garry DeFillippis and Michael Gariola for the three open seats on the Roxbury School Board this November.



PRESS RELEASE ATTACHED



New Jersey Foundation for Open Government

PO Box 271

Jamesburg, NJ 08831

For immediate release

For more information:

Walter M. Luers, Esq., NJFOG President

908 894 5656 / 201 892 4316




New Jersey Foundation for Open Government Announces

2012 NJFOG LIFT Award Recipients


Branchburg, NJ - September 10th 2012 - The New Jersey Foundation for Open Government announced its 2012 NJFOG LIFT Award recipients today. Nominations were considered in three categories: Journalists, Political Leaders and Citizen Activists, all of whom contributed meaningful efforts to encourage a government entity to conduct its business in a more transparent way.

This year's recipients in the category of political leaders are: Kenilworth Mayor Kathi Fiamingo, South Orange Mayor Alex Torpey and New Jersey State Senator Loretta Weinberg.

This year's recipients in the category of citizen activists are: John Bury of Union County, Frances Day of Morris County, Veronica Silkes also of Morris County, Michael Pierone of Warren County and David Burnett of Glouster County.

This year's sole recipient in the category of journalists is Fred Snowflack, editorial writer of The Record, of Bergen County.

The award recipients will be recognized at an upcoming Open Government Workshop at Raritan Valley Community College on Saturday, September 22nd.
 
For more information about NJFOG or the workshop, please visit www.njfog.org or contact the organization's president, Walter M. Luers Esq. at 908 894 5656.



Thursday, September 6, 2012

Three Candidates Withdraw Their Names From Roxbury School Board Race To Start Roxbury and Mount Arlington Consolidation Commission


Roxbury, NJ – (September 7th, 2012) – Roxbury School Board candidates Ralph Nappi, Virginia Mushinski and Chris Rogers have each submitted a formal request to the Morris County Clerk’s office today, asking for their names to be withdrawn from the school board election ballot in November. 

“Of the nine candidates that have submitted ballot petitions, we believe there are three other very well qualified candidates on the ballot in November.  Fran Day, Garry DeFilippis and Michael Gariola share our goal to lower property taxes, improve educational quality in our school and demand that the Roxbury School Board is held to a higher standard.  In our opinion, there is no reason for us to run against them.”  said Ralph Nappi, Roxbury TEAM member.

Nappi, Mushinski and Rogers stated that they intend to work with the Roxbury Taxpayers’ Education Association www.roxburyteam.org , The New Jersey Taxpayers’ Association www.njtaxes.org and Courage to Connect New Jersey www.couragetoconnectnj.com, founded by former Long Hill Mayor Gina Genovese, to form a consolidation study commission for the purposes of exploring the feasibility of merging Mount Arlington and Roxbury Township schools.  The study commission will also gather information on the feasibility of merging the municipal governments.

“We believe a substantial amount of tax dollars can be saved by consolidating.  Simply eliminating duplicative administrative positions and streamlining support departments would save both Roxbury and Mount Arlington hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.” stated Virginia Mushinski, Roxbury Resident and TEAM Vice President.

Nappi, Mushinski and Rogers invite members of both the Roxbury and Mount Arlington public to join them at the Roxbury Public Library on Wednesday, October 10th at 6:30pm as they give a presentation on the creation of the proposed consolidation study.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Roxbury Must Pay Legal Fees of Board Member


Daily Record

ROXBURY — An appellate court ruled Thursday that the Roxbury Board of Education must pay the legal fees of a member censured by her colleagues after she spoke out about a student rally protesting Gov. Chris Christie’s school budget cuts.
Roxbury school board member Maureen Castriotta’s battle began on April 27, 2010, when she showed up on school grounds to monitor a student demonstration and later confronted the high school principal and district superintendent about how they should have handled the walkout. The board censured her, saying that her actions were inappropriate.
State Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf vacated her censure in May 2011, upholding a judge’s decision that said Castriotta’s colleagues exceeded their authority. But Cerf denied Castriotta’s application for indemnification and counsel fees.
Thursday’s decision makes the board responsible for the cost of her counsel. Erik Hassing, Castriotta’s attorney, said Friday he will be tallying the expenses to provide the board with a sum.
“The court’s decision accurately reflects the intentions of the Legislature in setting up the statute. It’s an important decision for elected official across the state,” Hassing said. “The decision says that you don’t have to be independently wealthy to fight for your rights and the board is required to indemnify you.”
The statute “must be construed liberally to promote a diversity of views on educational issues and policy and encourage members of local boards of education to express their views freely, without fear or intimidation,” the court decision said.
Without Thursday’s ruling, school boards could have continued to violate the rights of minority members by censuring them if they did not have the means to hire counsel, Hassing said.
“This sends a strong message to school boards across the state and has an application as well to local mayors and councils: Before you proceed with such censure actions, you should make sure that you follow proper procedures, due process rights to the accused and recognize that if you’re in the wrong, you will have to pay their legal fees,” he said.
Former board president Craig Heard said Thursday was a “good day for protecting free speech.” Heard championed Castriotta’s “cause to bring accountability to school districts,” and organized a fundraising committee.
“They can’t just muzzle board members anymore,” he said.
Castriotta said Friday it was “a long, hard, stressful fight, but the outcome was worth it.” She added it is gratifying that her case will be the basis for new law that will protect school board members.
“The minority won’t be victimized anymore,” she said. “They can speak freely without retaliation and feel they don’t have financial stress of legal counsel. It’s a great win for school board members.”
Castriotta has never received an apology from the school board or administration, she says. “What they did to me was wrong. They perpetuated lies about me,” she said. “And it disturbs me that New Jersey School Board Association wasn’t on board with this case.”
Roxbury Superintendent Patrick Tierney said Friday he had no official comment on the ruling. Tierney took the helm of the administration on July 1. He said he plans to “read through (the decision) and confer with the attorneys and the board.”
Tierney said the commissioner of education still has to rule on the decision.