Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wayne Board Pressing to Oust Trustee

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wayne Board Pressing to Oust Trustee

Article excerpt

WAYNE -- State proceedings to remove a Board of Education member because she joined a legal action involving the board are continuing, even though the legal action has been withdrawn.

Catherine Kazan, often a dissenting voice on the board, had joined a petition filed in Superior Court in December seeking to invalidate the results of the November referendum in which voters rejected adopting full-day kindergarten in the district.

That, according to a 6-2 board majority, violated state law that prohibits trustees from being "interested directly or indirectly in any contract with or claim against the board."

Trustees directed the board attorney to file a complaint with the state School Ethics Commission and a petition with the state education commissioner "to disqualify Catherine Kazan from membership on the Wayne Township Board of Education."

Kazan and 14 other township residents had sought an order to put the question before voters again because, they argued, poll workers made remarks against full-day kindergarten during the November voting.

Kazan's attorney, Robert J. DeGroot, said the attempt to remove Kazan is political, based on her disagreements with the board.

Mark Toback, the schools superintendent, disagreed.

"It's misleading to say it's a purely political issue because it's not," Toback said. "There's a legitimate reason for the board to be concerned about" a board member being "party to a lawsuit."

DeGroot has argued that the board mistook the petition -- named "In Re Contest of the November 3, 2015, Public Question As to whether Full Day Kindergarten should be offered in Wayne Township Public Schools" -- for a lawsuit, and the Board of Education was not a defendant, merely an "interested party."

He withdrew the filing on June 26 -- the week after the board took its vote to seek Kazan's removal -- arguing it was now moot because the board voted in March to put full-day kindergarten before voters again in November.

The board attorney, Isabel Machado, has maintained that the petition is a lawsuit.

Machado cites the judiciary's Automated Civil Case Management System, which she says lists Wayne Township Public Schools "as the only defendant in the action," according to her filing with the state Department of Education on the Kazan case. …

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