Court ruling allows swearing-in of Pleasantville school board member

A court hearing Monday afternoon threatened to halt the swearing-in of a newly elected Board of Education member in Pleasantville,

But a Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Jerome Page in an incident involving allegations of trespassing, and Page and two other members were allowed to take their seats Tuesday.

Page was defendant in a case filed late last week by the Superintendent Garnell Bailey, who sought to halt Page’s joining the school board based on pending criminal charges.

The charges, according to school board attorney Navarro Gray, were fourth-degree criminal charges of trespass, relating to a Jan. 2 incident at the district’s administrative offices at the Pleasantville Middle School. Pleasantville police responded to the incident.

Gray argued that a statute exists to prevent employees of the district from working if there are pending charges and asked that the law be used to cover incoming board members.

Kenneth Warren, an attorney for Leonard Law Group LLC, represented Page. He said there was no formal charge filed against his client, and requested the judge dismiss the case.

He said his client was not alone during the Jan. 2 incident. Newly elected fellow board member Michael Bright was also present, Warren said.

Judge William Todd ruled in favor of Page, saying there were no pending charges to be found and that no applicable state statutes address pending charges against a board member.

Todd said that after Page was sworn in any trespassing charges would no longer be an issue for the Atlantic County criminal court system, but would instead be handled by the state education commissioner.

The judge said there was a discrepancy in the details of the incident, and sided with Page.

Gray said after the hearing that the incident on Jan. 2 occurred as a breach of procedure. Page was supposed to make an appointment with the secretary of an administrator, but instead showed up at the administrative offices. This created an outburst, Gray said in court, that was witnessed by children and disturbed the school environment.

At Tuesday’s meeting, three new members — Page, Bright and Lawrence Davenport — took office. Also, current members Darleen Bey-Blocker and Joanne Famularo were appointed president and vice president, respectively.

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