ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury schools' superintendent, some school personnel and the township board of education engaged in illegal acts and violations of school board policy, alleges the district’s former business administrator in a “whistleblower” lawsuit.
The complaint, filed in state Superior Court by former Roxbury Schools Business Administrator Patricia Wilson, alleges Wilson’s contract was not renewed because she challenged Roxbury Schools Administrator Loretta Radulic and other Roxbury school officials about the practices she witnessed.
In an answer to Wilson’s lawsuit, Radulic and the school board deny the validity of most of the allegations and leave it to Wilson to prove the others. Asked to comment about the lawsuit, Radulic declined, asserting it would be “dangerous” to discuss matters involved in litigation.
Not a Team Player
Wilson was hired in October 2016. Her $155,000-per-year, 3-year contract was not extended earlier this year - an action she characterizes in the lawsuit as being a "termination." The district, in its answer to her complaint, challenges that label and contends it merely opted to not renew Wilson’s contract.
Wilson alleges she was not retained because she did not want to go along with improper or unlawful behavior she witnessed while on the job. Several times in the lawsuit, Wilson contends Radulic accused her of not being a team-player because she challenged activities she believed were unethical, illegal or in opposition to Roxbury School Board policy.
Wilson - noting her 23 years of experience as a school district business administrator - alleges she took issue with a number of practices she observed, including what she contended were:
- Radulic’s attempts to circumvent school board approval for travel expenses
- The district’s failure to adhere to its policy of getting outside organizations to fund security and custodial costs when they used school buildings
- The co-mingling and misappropriation of student-activity fund money
- Pressure from Radulic to buy software from a vendor that hosted Radulic’s all-expenses-paid trip to a resort
- The issuing of blank purchase orders to vendors
- Radulic’s circumvention of board approval for school bus manufacturing costs
- Radulic’s reprimands against her for enforcing state law and board policy
- Her termination after being chastised by Radulic as being “as an employee who was not on her team.”
"During her employment for the district, Plaintiff observed and attempted to correct several violations of New Jersey State Law and Board Policy by school administrators," says the lawsuit. "On several occasions, Plaintiff observed Defendant Radulic violating, or attempting to violate, New Jersey State Law and Board Policy. The Board knew, or should have known, that the District's employees and administrators, including Defendant Radulic, had violated New Jersey State Law and Board Policy that addressed the District's bookkeeping procedures, budgets and expenditures."
Blowing the Whistle
The lawsuit alleges the behavior of Radulic and the school board, in not retaining Wilson, violated the state whistleblower law, formerly known as the Conscientious Employee Protection Act.
“As a direct and proximate result of Defendants' conduct, Plaintiff was caused to suffer damages, including financial loss and emotional and mental anguish, and other economic and non-economic damages,” asserts the complaint.
It seeks unspecified compensation for pain and suffering and emotional distress as well as payment for punitive damages and attorney fees.
Wilson is demanding a jury trial, but a settlement could take place at any time. If the litigation proceeds under a schedule approved by Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz, in Morristown, both sides have until December 2020 to complete “discovery,” or the gathering of evidence including depositions and expert reports.
You can read Wilson's complaint here.
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