Dear South Plainfield Taxpayers,
As you may know, last year, Debbie and Robert Boyle of South Plainfield instituted a lawsuit against 6 current and past Board of Education members, including myself, as well as 6 South Plainfield citizens, claiming among other things that the Defendants caused Mrs. Boyle to be embarrassed and her standing in the community to “reduced,” and that Mr. Boyle was deprived of Mrs. Boyle’s love and consortium. I myself was personally named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Since the entire lawsuit is now a public record, I encourage all of you to read the charges alleged by the Boyles. As you will see, it is clear that there is absolutely nothing viable in any of the charges that could remotely rise to the level of pursuing a lawsuit against anyone. This was confirmed by a Superior Court judge, who completely dismissed the case without even a trial.
Instead, the true basis of these claims appears to all stem from the Middle School PTO and the fact that Mrs. Boyle was the president there. The Board of Education, collectively, decided to implement a policy to provide transparency where such parent-led groups are concerned. It was well within its right to do so. This policy prevents any Board member from serving in an executive capacity on a PTO, Booster Club, or other school club. It does not prevent any Board member from serving as a general member of any of these groups. Three other Board members were also affected by the policy, and took no issue resigning their executive-level positions but remaining a general member of their respective groups.
One of the charges in the lawsuit asserts the defendants enacted this policy by way of sexual discrimination against Mrs. Boyle, which I believe to mean that because Mrs. Boyle is a woman, she was negatively affected by the policy due to her gender. However, Mr. and Mrs. Boyle conveniently did not mention in their lawsuit that there were women on the Board that voted in favor of this policy. Why would that fact be left out? Perhaps because if the Judge found in the Boyle’s favor on this charge, all fees and costs become the defendants’ responsibility, and the Boyle’s attorney would be paid in full.
In addition, the Board members named in the suit were sued in their individual capacity even though the actions Mr. and Mrs. Boyle complained of, in particular, enacting a policy as a Board action, were taken by the Board as a whole. If Mr. and Mrs. Boyle took issue with a Board decision, they should have named the Board of Education itself as a defendant. I can only assume Mrs. Boyle did not do so because, as a Board member, she cannot sue the Board she serves on and would have been required to step down from her position during this process. Instead, Mr. and Mrs. Boyle sued the Board member defendants individually for actions taken as Board members, which requires the Board, and District taxpayers, to indemnify them and pay for all of their legal defenses. The Boyles also sued individuals who had to defend themselves but had no responsibility or authority over the policy at the heart of the Boyles’ case. I am still unsure why the Boyles chose to name these individuals in the case, though perhaps it is simply because they disagreed with Mrs. Boyle or questioned her about her actions? If every elected official took to suing each person who questioned them, what kind of democracy would we have? Not to mention, the taxpayers who pay for these lawsuits would quickly go broke.
I asked and was told the school had to pay out in excess of $15,000 dollars from their budget to defend the case, in addition to the 20-plus thousand dollars that the insurance company covered. It should be remembered that even though the insurance company paid for some of the legal fees, even this is not “free” for the District, since the District’s insurance rates will no doubt rise in the future to cover just this sort of situation. All of this for a lawsuit that was deemed completely meritless and thrown out of court in its entirety!
Thank you for allowing me to set the record straight. To Mr. and Mrs. Boyle, I ask what are your plans to pay restitution to the District, the insurance company and the other defendants? I understand the judge said you do not have to, but how could you not? How could you possibly discuss a responsible budget when you cost our students, teachers and faculty money? “Our Students First,” indeed.
I may no longer live in South Plainfield, but I consider it my home town, and it is close to my heart. Anything that negatively impacts it is of concern to me, and therefore this fiasco was a slap in the face to the residents of a wonderful place to live. That Mrs. Boyle now believes that the people of South Plainfield should award her a seat on the school board she most decidedly sued in a meritless manner is ludicrous.