BOE responds to challenge of Dyer contract

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WALL TOWNSHIP — The Board of Education and Superintendent Cheryl Dyer have filed responses to a challenge of Ms. Dyer’s new contract by the Wall Township Education Association [WTEA] and a township resident.

The responses dispute claims in the union’s petition of appeal which allege that the board of education and Mrs. Dyer violated N.J.S.A. 18A:11-11 and N.J.S.A. 6A:23A-3.1 by failing to provide at least 30 days’ notice prior to the renegotiation of Mrs. Dyer’s employment contract and failing to provide at least 10 days’ notice of a hearing with respect to the board’s proposed actions to Mrs. Dyer’s contract.

The WTEA petition further called for an order invalidating any and all actions taken by the board at the Sept. 19 meeting in connection with Mrs. Dyer’s contract.

The board’s answer was filed with New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner Kimberly Harrington on Wednesday, Nov. 22, and calls for Ms. Harrington to dismiss the case without the need for the petition to go to the Office of Administrative Law and before an administrative law judge.

“We filed an answer and a request for a summary dismissal so as to avoid any kind of prolonged review or need for a hearing in the matter, since there are no facts in dispute,” the board’s attorney, Michael Gross said.

Mrs. Dyer’s answer, dated Nov. 14 and filed with the commissioner by her New Jersey Association of School Administrators attorney, Andrew Babiak, alleges that Mrs. Dyer did not “renegotiate” her existing employment contract by extending, amending or altering its terms, but negotiated and entered into a new contract dated Sept. 19.

“Accordingly, N.J.S.A. 18A:11-11 and N.J.S.A. 6A:23A-3.1[c][i] are not applicable, and this matter should be dismissed outright,” the answer stated.

Mr. Babiak further denied public notice was required, citing a May 15 email from Dr. Lester Richens, interim executive county superintendent, that was sent to all county superintendents, and his Sept. 19 letter approving Mrs. Dyer’s new contract.

“If you amend your contract there must be an advertised public hearing on your contract amendment. If you rescind the old contract and a new contract is negotiated that replaces any existing contract, then there is no public hearing,” Mr. Richens’ email read.

Mr. Richens’ Sept. 19 approval letter has remained a point of contention between the two parties, as petitioners allege it confirms public notice is required, whereas both answers from Mrs. Dyer and the board of education allege the letter confirms the contrary. 

According to Flavio Komuves, an attorney representing the WTEA, his clients remain confident notice was required.

“We are pretty confident that both under the substance of what the board of education did, as well as the technicalities they tried to invoke, that either way, this is something that they should have held a hearing on with 30 days’ notice,” Mr. Komuves said.

For more on this story, read The Coast Star—on newsstands Thursday or online in our e-Edition.