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Court Dates Set for Board of Ed vs. Superintendent

Depositions to begin on April 5, hearing dates set for June.

A court date has been set for the start of the long-awaited legal action between Parsippany Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz and the .

A March 13 letter from Weiner-Lesniak LLP, the official law firm representing the school board, obtained through an Open Public Records Act request, states that oral arguments on depositions are scheduled for April 5.

Another letter, similarly obtained, is from the law firm of Gold, Albanese & Barletti, which is representing the BOE in Seitz's lawsuit. In this missive, peremptory hearing dates—meaning the dates cannot be changed—are slated for June 18-29.

The subject of the suit is the contract agreed to by Seitz and the school board in November 2010. Under the five-year pact, the superintendent was to be paid just over $216,000 for 2010-11. For this school year, he was to receive $220,565, and increasingly more until topping out at about $234,000 for 2014-15.

The because it was negotiated and approved by the superintendent and the board a year before Seitz's previous contract was set to expire—and after Gov. Chris Christie announced his intention to impose a cap on salaries for school superintendents across the state.

Under Christie's edict, which did not go into effect until February 2011, administrators for districts the size of Parsippany could not earn more than $175,000. With stipends for governing two high schools, Seitz, according to the state Department of Education, was permitted to be paid a total of $177,500.

The t, and over the next months, a war of words erupted between Trenton, Morristown (where Dr. Kathleen Serafino, the executive county superintendent of schools, is based) and the Parsippany school board. 

The BOE insisted that Serafino had given her OK before it approved the agreement with Seitz. The executive county superintendent, Gov. Christie and the Department of Education disagreed. In February 2011, the state announced that it would not approve the Parsippany school budget until the board rescinded the pact.

Prior to this, in December 2010, the , asserting that it had no right to control how school boards decide to compensate their employees. Six months later, . Shortly after that, the Department of Education lobbed another threat at the BOE: Rescind the contract or risk losing more than $3 million in state aid to Parsippany schools.

The —or so it appeared. By the start of the 2011-12 school year, news came that .

That finding led to . The . Under the direction of the executive county superintendent, President Frank Calabria and BOE Attorney Mark Tabakin took steps to ensure the pay cut was enforced.

In response, against the Parsippany school board and Serafino. Their contention is that after the contract was rescinded, the previous contract—under which he was paid $212,000, still above the Christie cap—went back into effect.

Then, Serafino threatened the school board once more with the possible loss of state aid. She alleged that Seitz was overpaid to the tune of about $34,000 during the time when he was paid in excess of the cap. Under duress, according to Calabria, the board complied and filed a counterclaim against the superintendent to recoup the money.

As directed by Serafino, the . The agreement was sent to the executive county superintendent for review, where it reportedly remains.

Now, the dueling legal actions finally will get underway in two weeks with oral argument depositions at the Office of Administrative Law in Newark.

Werner-Lesniak will represent the Parsippany school board in its counterclaim.

Seitz, Serafino and Calabria have not returned messages for comment.

Toby March 22, 2012 at 03:07 PM
What a joke!
Natalie Davis (Editor) March 22, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Extrapolate, please.
Hank Heller March 22, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I fully expect the people interviewed for the BOE to do a poor job so they can help Seitz win the suit and thus cause the BOE of Parsippany to have to pay Seitz the amount they intended when Mancuso, Calabria, Neglia, Orme, Choffo, Othwein and Valori arranged the illegal and unethical original contract with Seitz. Whether I turn out to be right or wrong, I believe that the taxpayers of Parsippany will not forget the BOE members, current and former, who have brought us two years of mess, legal bills and enmity just so they could get their way and out-manouver the Governor. Frankly, whatever way it comes out, this BOE and school administration has proven, over and over, that it's interests lie in holding power for itself and not to benefit the children nor the taxpayers. Certainly, it is clear that most of the effort of the BOE, Dr. Seitz, the BOE attorney and the public has had to be focused on this contract situation over the past two years and that should never have happened. Hank Heller
parhome March 22, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Agree, what a joke. If you hold a town job, and go against the Mayor (turf fields), good riddance. If you hold a Bd of Ed position, and go against the BOE/Seitz, adios.
Anonymous teacher in district April 05, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Many teachers are against him too- strongly,and can't say a word or else.
VietNam Vet August 30, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Ohh Hank, you are so right, thats why we need to remember to vote against Neglia Calabria and Orme this year to get rid of these three idiots who are not concern about the people in this town. They are after power over all of us and we need to show them that kind of control and governing we don't need. Mr Speitz is only worried about his fat paycheck and the hell with the people or the kids. This is one hell of an education to teach the kids, " How to be a greedy pig" in one easy lesson. Get rid of the money grubbing bum.
VietNam Vet August 30, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Every so often a time comes in your life and you have to stand up for the right when you know something is wrong. This jerk is the wrong and you have to think about something bigger than the job.

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