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Who should pay to defend East Ramapo school board?

Thursday August 9, 2012 7:19 PM By Meghan Murphy


Photo credit: Angela Gaul East Ramapo Superintendent Joel Klein’s secretary called Thursday in response to a message left for him the day before asking for comment on the lawsuit that names Klein and past and present school board members. I was told that Klein couldn’t comment on the litigation and then referred to school attorney Antonio D’Agostino for comment. On any given day that would be a pretty routine response. But nothing is ever routine in East Ramapo. In this case, that referral itself speaks to a conflict that’s arisen in this lawsuit and in other challenges to the board. Former school board member Richard Stone said Wednesday that the school board’s vocal opponents are robbing the kids of money with their legal challenges, but forcing the board to pay attorneys to defend them. That’s exactly why next week Advocates for Justice attorney Arthur Schwartz will ask a judge to bar the defendants, who are named as individuals, from using the school attorneys in their defense. Klein’s referral seems to make it clear that unless the judge agrees with the plaintiffs he will indeed use the school attorney in his defense. Another item of note is that D’Agostino is actually a defendant in the lawsuit. Just last month, the state attorney general argued that it’s a conflict of interest for D’Agostino to represent the school board in its investigation of the district, because he may become a witness in the case. So too would D’Agostino be interviewed in a lawsuit where he is a defendant.

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