Friday, July 25, 2014

OPRA win in Somerset County

On July 23, 2014, Vicinage 13 Assignment Judge Yolanda Ciccone ordered the Bound Brook Board of Education (Somerset County) to disclose an investigative report regarding an elementary school teacher's complaint that she was harassed, bullied and discriminated against by her supervisor and other District employees.  She also ordered the Board to turn over a letter that the teacher's lawyer sent to the Board's lawyer.  Ciccone ruled, however, that the Board shall redact the names of certain parties from both documents "due to privacy issues."  Ciccone's order is on-line here.

The teacher, Shari Duddy, filed a civil complaint against the Board in August 2011 which resulted in a $250,000 settlement in January of 2014. Details on the discrimination lawsuit are on-line here.

On February 10, 2014, I submitted my Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for the investigative report and the letter.  The Board denied my request on the basis that the records sought constitute "information generated by or on behalf of public employers or public employees in connection with any sexual harassment complaint filed with a public employer or with any grievance filed by or against an individual or in connection with collective negotiations, including documents and statements of strategy or negotiating position" pursuant to N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.1.

I was represented in the lawsuit by Walter M. Luers of Clinton.  The lawsuit, order to show cause and other case documents are on-line here.

The Board has ten days to release the records and, upon receipt, I will update this blog entry to provide a link to those records.

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