Castriotta and school board in court

 The censure of Roxbury school board member Maureen Castriotta by her board colleagues played out today before an administrative law judge in Newark.

If nothing else, the case figures to set precedent. Judge Ellen Bass noted that case law on the topic is exceedingly thin.
The main argument by Castriotta’s attorney was that the meeting at which she was censured last May did not afford her due process. That procedure did have a farcical quality to it. Castriotta was not allowed to present witnesses, nor was her attorney allowed to cross examine witnesses presenting evidence against her. No witnesses were sworn in and the hearing was limited to 45 minutes.

Steve Edelstein, who represented the district, sought to play down the censure, noting that it carried little tangible weight other than being a formal reprimand. He told the court that, “A board has every right in the world to pass a (censure) resolution that looks like this one.”
His point was clear _ by minimizing its importance, Ecclestein attempted to convince the judge a formal legal hearing was not needed.

Lawyers for Castriotta, however, contended that the censure had serious implications for the board member’s career and reputation and as such, Castriotta should have had a formal hearing before the School Ethics Commission.  That forum would have featured sworn testimony and cross examination.

Each side sought to win the case on summary judgment. The district wanted Castriotta’s appeal dismissed; Castriotta wanted the board’s censure vacated.
Bass, who will issue a written ruling, said she has three choices.

She can side with the district, with Castriotta, or with neither one. If she chooses the last option, a hearing on the merits of Castriotta’s appeal will then take place.

No matter what happens, the judge’s ruling will  be merely a recommendation to the state education commissioner.

The courtroom did include about five spectators, all of whom were Castriotta supporters. That group included fellow board member Chris Rogers.



About fsnowflack
Fred Snowflack was editorial page editor and a political columnist for the Daily Record of Morristown for almost 12 years. He has won numerous awards for editorial and column writing from the New Jersey Press Association and has written a blog on county and state politics for the last three years. He lives in Ledgewood in Morris County.

2 Responses to Castriotta and school board in court

  1. School Supporter says:

    What a joke she is, and her buddy Chris Rogers too. She should be glad she only got a reprimand. What is this costing the school district in legal fees??? Is her lawyer being paid by the district??

  2. fsnowflack says:

    Castriotta’s lawyer is not getting paid by the district
    And frankly, the district brought this on itself .. There was no need for a formal censure.

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