Attorney Known to Probe School Boards to Meet BOE
Former state Supreme Court justice was hired by the board for 'unspecified litigation.'
Thursday night's Parsippany Board of Education meeting will get a later than usual start—8 p.m.—thanks to a special closed session beginning at the usual 7 p.m. start time, and to a special guest.
Board President Frank Calabria said the private members-only portion of the meeting will feature a visit from Gary Stein, the attorney and former state Supreme Court justice hired by most of the board Aug. 1 for up to $5,000 for "unspecified litigation."
School board member Michael Strumolo was not included in the decision. He reportedly stormed out of that closed session and was not present for the vote.
A short time later, Strumolo sent Gov. Chris Christie a letter asking him to come to Parsippany to deal with unnamed board members' allegedly improper acts. Strumolo also claimed that Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz was attempting to harass him by threatening him with ethics charges.
The retired justice has experience with investigating school district matters: In 2011, he was hired by the Elizabeth school system for a reported $500,000 to conduct an independent investigation of its school lunch program after a Star-Ledger series by reporter Ted Sherman found alleged corruption there.
Stein's report found no wrongdoing and asserted that The Star-Ledger's account was “misleading," "inaccurate, unfair and unsubstantiated.”
The Star-Ledger's management stood by its reports.
Much was made in the media of a possible conflict of interest Stein had: He works for his son's law firm, Pashman Stein. And one of Michael Stein's clients was the Elizabeth school district, which paid him just this year more than a half million dollars.
Calabria would not comment on what job Stein was hired to do for the Parsippany school board.
He also said it had not yet been determined whether Stein will appear during the portion of Thursday's meeting that includes the public.
The BOE meeting—the first of the 2012-13 school year—will be held at 292 Parsippany Road.