Updated with statement from Sean Spiller and comment from Shavar Jeffries below.
Montclair Township Attorney Ira Karasick tells Baristanet that, after a two hour hearing, Judge Thomas Moore, Superior Court, Chancery Division, denied Montclair Kids First’s (MKF) motion for a restraining order prohibiting Councilor Sean Spiller from serving on the Board of School Estimate.
Karasick says that while the Township did not formally intervene and enter the case, he did submit a letter outlining the Council’s concerns, which the Judge acknowledged.
According to Karasick, the essence of the judge’s opinion was that the issue of conflict was far from settled, that it’s hard to claim irreparable harm at the last second when Councilor Spiller has been an NJEA officer and member of the BSE for at least 18 months old, and there are many procedural and jurisdiction issues unresolved.
Karasick said the Judge Moore indicated that MKF would need to identify at least seven members, and several jurisdictional issues would need to be addressed, if the case were to go forward. Karasick said the issue of dismissing the case outright was not on the table today.
“Today’s hearing was strictly about whether the Court should issue an injunction prohibiting Councilor Spiller from serving on the BSE,” says Karasick, adding that the Judge did not rule on anything else.
Meanwhile, Montclair Kids First sent an announcement to its members, copying Baristanet. Here is how MKF described today’s events as they relate to the court proceedings:
NEW JERSEY SUPERIOR COURT COMPLAINT AGAINST SPILLER ALLOWED TO PROCEED
SPILLER’S REQUEST TO DISMISS DENIED
STATEMENT FROM MONTCLAIR KIDS FIRST REGARDING SEAN SPILLER’S ETHICS AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST VIOLATIONS
On Friday, March 20th, Superior Court Judge Thomas Moore ruled that the Court would not dismiss the ethics and conflict of interest violations Montclair Kids First (MKF) showcased in its formal complaint.
The following is a statement from Montclair Kids First:
“We applaud the Court’s ruling today. This decision is just the beginning, and an important first step, in bringing greater transparency to our community.
“Montclair’s Board of School Estimate controls the school budgets of our community. As Mr. Spiller is a paid, elected official of the Teacher’s Union, whose first priority is to his membership, Mr. Spiller’s responsibilities to the NJEA preclude him from providing the impartial, independent decision-making that the residents of Montclair deserve. The judge had the option to follow Mr. Spiller’s request and dismiss the case, but he did not.
Councilor Sean Spiller sends Baristanet his statement of the events:
I am pleased that the court today found there was no basis to restrain my service on the board of school estimate. I understand the judge acknowledged not only that this anonymous group would have to identify itself before it could even proceed with the case, but that it is unlikely it could prevail even if it identifies its members and continues with this lawsuit. As in past years, I will continue to devote my services to ensuring we have strong public schools with extensive educational opportunities for our students provided in the most cost-effective manner.
Additionally, MKF attorney Shavar Jeffries contacted Baristanet to say that in papers submitted to the court, Spiller’s own attorneys, Zazzali, Fagella, Nowak, Kleinbaum & Friedman, (not Karasick) had tried unsuccessfully to have the case dismissed.