Ethics Charges Dropped Against Two West Orange Board Members

Nicholas Galante, former president of the West Orange Education Association's Teacher's Union and a district employee, withdrew complaint against board members Laura Lab and Megan Brill.

The former president of the West Orange Education Association's Teacher's Union and a district employee has withdrawn his ethics complaint filed against two school board members last year.

"My decision to file ethics charges against Ms. Lab and Ms. Brill was informed by issues between the Board and its Superintendent," Nicholas Galante said in a statement earlier this week [Full statement attached in PDF]. "The West Orange School District is now in a very different place."

Galante filed the complaint with the state School Ethics Commission in February 2012 against Lab, the board president at that time and Brill, another board member.

The complaint charged Lab allegedly demanded Galante be transferred from his current work assignment and asked that Galante's work email be monitored - among other complaints.

It also charged Brill wanted a "supporter" to fill a teacher position that had been left vacant because of a maternity leave, as well as other alleged ethic lapses.

According to a statement from Lab, the School Ethics Commission found no probable cause to any of Galante's allegation in late May 2012. The commission voted to turn the matter over to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing, where it is mandated to have complete proof of the charges. [Full statement attached as PDF]

During a meeting with the administrative law judge April 3, Galante withdrew all charges against the two board members. 

The board asked in the meeting that all lawyer fees accrued by the district for the claims, which were deemed 'excessive' in June of last year, be repaid by Galante. The request was denied.

john anthony prignano April 18, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Naturally, a lawyer made money, and Galante says "My decision to file ethics charges against Ms. Lab and Ms. Brill was informed by issues between the the Board and the Superintendent. The West Orange School District is in a far different place now." Why wasn't Cavanna part of the lawsuit? He says that there were issues between the Board and Cavanna, but all of his allegations were made against Ms. Lab's and Ms. Brill's were specific to how they were treating HIM. When it comes time to present his proof about 3 allegations, he has none. But he doesn't say that. He says his motivation to file charges was "informed"? by issues between the Board and Dr.Cavanna? and "The West Orange School District is in a far different place now." He's not saying he had no case He's saying he dropped his case because the District has undergone dramatic changes. I assume he believes the changes were positive. A lawyer gets an "excessive" payday from the taxpayers, Galante, who depicts himself as a successful reformer of some sort, now into fades into the sunset, Ms. Brill and Ms. Lab are depicted by their minions as paragons of virtue and integrity, and in 2012, 55% of seventh graders at Liberty Middle School passed Language Arts Literacy, and 39% of them passed math,at a cost of $21,000+ a student.
Gary Englert April 18, 2013 at 05:27 PM
acs/ace: The ethics charges filed by Mr. Galante were found groundless nearly a year ago by the Ethics Commission and the matter referred to an Admistrative Law Judge for adjudication. These apparently centered on Galante's contention that Mrs. Lab was seeking to have him transferred and that Mrs. Brill was seeking to have somoene hired to fill a vacant position. The fact of the matter remains that the members of the Board of Education do not hire anyone; they can only approve or disapprove the personnel recommendations placed before it by the Superintendent...period. That said, the burden of proof was on Mr. Galante to prove his allegations and he had a year during which to make his case and, not being able to do so, he withdrew his complaint. His statement is telling, however, insofar as he now acknowledges that the Board can only act on personnel recommendations made by the Suprintendent. The reference to the Board receiving ethics training is the proverbial giving of icebergs to Eskimos; annual ethics training has long been an annual requirement for school boards throughout the state. What Mr. Galante thought he was trying to accomplish here is anyone's guess but, it's far from unusual for the head of a collective bargaining unit to employ various and sundry tactics during contract negotiations, warranted or not.
john anthony prignano April 18, 2013 at 06:41 PM
Nick Galante's BASE PAY is $112,321. He also gets longevity pay. So he's paid approximately $120,000 + benefits. Pleasantdale test scores 2012; Third grade, 50.8% passed language arts literacy, and 60.7% passed math. Fourth grade 55.8% passed l.a.l. and 75.5% passed math, and 90.5% passed science. Fifth grade 61.9% passed l.a.l. and 87.3% passed math. A "very encouraging" to Pleasantdale on fourth grade science, and to a lesser degree, fifth grade math. The rest of the scores are either abysmal or less than abysmal. And at a cost of $21,000+ per student! $120,000 a year + great benefits,and in May, 2012, {after the standardized tests?} Galante accused the School Board of picking on HIM.
hugh lindsay April 18, 2013 at 07:36 PM
why didn't we ever hear their sides to this story?
Mickey Russo April 25, 2013 at 01:56 PM
It makes me wonder what they had on Mr. Galante for him to "retire" so abrubtly. Yes folks, he did retire, just look at the March 27, 2013 Board Agenda.


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