The feud between Montclair Board of Education member Tanya Coke and Montclair Education Association president Gayl Shepard has taken a nasty turn. An attorney acting on behalf of Shepard has filed an “unfair labor practice charge” against Coke and the Montclair School District. The filing was reported in the article “BOE Affirms Search Process” in the July 18 edition of the The Montclair Times.
Coke had sent an e-mail to couple of teachers informing them of the district’s FAQ page on the new curriculum and assessments plan back in June, which caused Shepard to confront Coke over the issue. Board members are not allowed to contract school staff directly. After the two women exchanged harsh words at the Board of Education’s June 17 meeting during a recess, several Montclair parents came to Coke’s defense, but, according to The Montclair Times, attorney Sanford Oxfeld of the Newark law firm Oxfeld Cohen, who filed the charge, said in a letter to Coke that he had “never seen the action of a board of education member which is so flagrantly in disregard of relevant laws.” Coke has not replied.
Board Vice President Shelly Lombard told Barista Kids that she hoped the dispute between Coke and Shepard could be settled out of court.
“This type of litigation is a waste of money, Lombard said. “I don’t know who pays their legal fees but when the Board has to defend this type of litigation, Montclair taxpayers have to pay for it. So we are spending money on lawsuits that could have been spent in the classroom.”