Saturday, November 19, 2011

Paff v. Runnemede school board: Motion hearing December 16th

Update: The September 25, 2012 Consent Judgment that resolved the Open Public Meetings Act component of the lawsuit is on-line here and the correspondence referred to in paragraph 3 of the Consent Judgment is here. Also on-line are Judge Kelley's Order of December 16, 2011, his Order of May 30, 2012, the closed session minutes that were ultimately release, and the Board's letter to Judge Kelley regarding the minutes.
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Readers may recall that attorney Walter M. Luers and I filed a lawsuit in June against the Runnemede (Camden County) Board of Education in an attempt to learn exactly why the board gave former Business Administrator Kelly Brazelton a leave of absence from September 23, 2010 through April 15, 2011 while paying her a $99,465 annual salary. According to media reports at the time, the arrangement was made in order to stave off a lawsuit that Brazelton had apparently threatened to file. Brazelton has since been hired as assistant business administrator in the Deptford (Gloucester County) School District. The lawsuit is on-line here and the school board's and Brazelton's answer to the suit is on-line here.

Walter and I recently moved for summary judgment on the first count of our lawsuit. Summary judgment can be entered by a court when there are no serious factual disputes and that all that is needed is for a judge to apply the law to the undisputed facts of the case. The motion will be heard in Camden County Superior Court on Friday, December 16, 2011. Our motion, certification and brief are on-line here.

Specifically, we are asking the court to order the board to provide a "privilege log" which explains and justifies each redaction it made to the minutes of its nonpublic (i.e. closed or executive) meetings held during the period when Brazelton's leave of absence was being considered. Unfortunately, the board redacted its minutes but gave only vague reasons for those redactions. We are also asking the court to order the board to file unredacted versions of its nonpublic meeting minutes with the court so that a judge can look at them privately (i.e. conduct an in camera review) to determine whether the redactions are proper.

Members of public are welcome to attend the December 16, 2011 hearing on our motion. It will be held at the Camden County Courthouse, probably at 9 a.m before Assignment Judge Francis J. Orlando, Jr. Those who are interested in attending should check the court's website a day or so before the hearing to ensure that it hasn't been postponed or cancelled. Refer to Paff v. Runnemede Board of Education, Camden County, Docket No. L-2865-11.

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