Sea Bright to Cover Potential Litigation Costs of Splitting from School Boards

SEA BRIGHT – Reporting that collaboration of administrators and elected officials is working well towards ensuring the question of a K-12 regional school district with Sea Bright, Highlands and Atlantic Highlands, the governing body unanimously passed two resolutions at last night’s meeting of the Mayor and Council, both advancing measures necessary or desired to ensure the question is on the ballot in November in all three municipalities.

Council unanimously approved authorizing special counsel Porzio, Bromberg Newman, PC to prepare and submit a petition to the Commissioner of Education seeking authorization to hold a referendum for a new ALL Purpose PK-12 regional district. The resolution is similar to what Sea Bright had introduced months ago but incorporates the authority for Porzio to submit the petition to the Commissioner of Education.

At the same time, the governing body, again unanimously, approved another resolution reiterating what it has said and approved several times in the past: in the unlikely event either Oceanport or Shore Regional High School files suit against Sea Bright, Highlands or Atlantic Highlands in connection with the regionalization proposal, Sea Bright has agreed to underwrite all costs any of the three towns would incur because of the litigation.

The resolution’s approval refers to the “unlikely event” of litigation, in light of the new law passed and signed by Governor Murphy in January which paves the way for forming regional school districts separate from what is in existence now should they provide both financially equitable for the municipalities involved and educationally sound for students attending the new regional school district.

Both Oceanport and the Shore Regional School Boards of Education have remained silent throughout all the discussions on regionalization. Sea Bright has been having public meetings with the two closer communities over several years. However, the Oceanport superintendent of schools this week sent a newsletter to parents of school children announcing the Board of Education is seeking volunteers, “in particular Sea Bright parents,” to join an ad hoc committee to assist in educating the board with facts on the regionalization possibility. That action is being taken, the superintendent said, since approval of the question on the ballot and subsequent approval by the three towns could have a devastating impact on the residents of Oceanport and students in Oceanport schools. There are no Sea Bright residents serving on the Oceanport Board of Education though the community is considered a part of that Board rather than a sending district to Oceanport under a law enacted in the 1970s.


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Although board members have never approached Sea Bright’s Mayor and Council for information, nor have board members attended any of the workshops in any of the three towns all of whom have held workshops in the past few months, the superintendent’s letter also said the loss of funding to Oceanport and Shore Regional would be devastating to the school community of Oceanport and Shore Regional. The letter did not address the high costs Sea Bright pays to both districts for the education of its fewer than 75 students.

Because of these reasons, the superintendent said in the newsletter that the Oceanport Board of Education “has had legal representation at these meetings,” though none has ever been identified nor addressed the official bodies. The board has never taken a public position on the regionalization question, the letter said, so as “to see the will of these communities before publicly vocalizing their own position.” The letter also said the proposal will have a negative impact on West Long Branch, Monmouth Beach and Shore Regional High School though no concerns have ever been expressed at any public meeting of any of these boards or at Sea Bright, Highlands, and Atlantic Highlands meetings. .

The newsletter made it clear the board of education plans to consider every legal avenue available to oppose the regionalization, prompting the Sea Bright Mayor and Council to unanimously adopt the resolution assuring the two other towns in the proposed regional district it would pay all costs should the litigation unlikely to happen.


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