Ramapo-Indian Hills School Board President Faces Heat Amidst Rising Legal Costs and Claims of Mismanagement

In a recent Ramapo-Indian Hills School Board meeting, board members expressed mounting concerns about escalating legal fees, alleged attempts to silence dissenting voices, and perceived mismanagement. The meeting saw sharp critiques of board president, Judith Sullivan, with members calling for transparency, better governance, and a return to the district’s mission of excellence in education.

Board member Dr. Lorenz spotlighted what he saw as board mismanagement, singling out the high frequency of communication between Ms. Sullivan and board counsel as a major factor behind the escalating legal costs.

In the previous school board meeting, an effort to remove Ms. Sullivan from her post narrowly failed.

Ms. King, another board member, elaborated on her deep-seated frustrations, particularly highlighting a committee meeting scheduled immediately post Yom Kippur, which she saw as a slight to her as the only Jewish member. She also criticized Ms. Sullivan for allegedly creating discord in meetings, expressing concern over the board’s handling of various matters. An ensuing debate with fellow board member Doreen Mariani centered around communication and respect between members.

However, the escalating legal costs became a central concern, with members detailing bills from firms such as Wilentz, Goldman, and Spitzer and Porzio. Costs were largely related to defending the board against public matters or other legal consultations. An attendee during public comment also pointed to a $48,000 legal bill, questioning the board’s alleged rubber-stamping of such approvals.

Ms. Sullivan refuted allegations about her role in these costs, asserting, “What these board members are reporting to you, It is false.” She claimed some board members continuously sought legal opinions in attempts to find her at fault but never succeeded. Nevertheless, board member Mr. DeLay criticized her behavior, stating she displayed “obstruction, blatant disregard for board policy and fellow board members, filibustering and threatening the board with legal action.”

Apart from these concerns, other noteworthy updates included the introduction of a block scheduling proposal by the administration set for the next official board meeting. The proposal has been under discussion for the past three years, with plans to align the district with other schools that adopted similar schedules. Additionally, a notable donation is in planning stages to aid a school in Maui following devastating fires.

The meeting ended with announcements of future dates and a unanimous vote to adjourn.

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