Interim county superintendent: Jersey City BOE’s vote to fire Lyles is ‘invalid and void’

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Just when it appeared that the battle between Jersey City Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marcia Lyles and the local school board had ended, the interim county superintendent says the board of education did not follow protocol when firing her last week. 

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

” … A superintendent cannot be dismissed during the term of an employment contract with a board without a hearing that results in the determination that a superintendent may be terminated,” Interim Executive Hudson County Superintendent Melissa Pearce said in a Friday letter to Board President Sudhan Thomas.

Furthermore, Pearce wrote that the proper procedure would’ve required the BOE to submit an early termination agreement for the state commissioner of education to review.

According to Pearce, that did not happen in this instance.

“For the reasons set forth above, I have determined that the board resolution terminating Dr. Lyles violates the above statues and regulations and, is therefore, invalid and void,” the letter concludes.

In response to the letter, the Jersey City BOE held an emergency meeting at 5:30 p.m. last night where they approved placing Lyles on administrative leave.

Thomas said that Pearce’s remarks were “invalid and void” since she did not have the authority to determine if the board’s actions were legal or not.

“The state Department of Education stayed the Interim Executive County Superintendent’s action on February 3,2019 to provide the Board the opportunity to clarify its action, and has recommended that the Board adopt a resolution ‘clarifying’ its Board’s intention to place the superintendent on administrative leave with pay,” he said in a statement.

After about a month straight of teachers and board members expressing their discontent with Lyles, the Jersey City BOE voted to fire her at Thursday night’s meeting.

The vote came after a roughly 45-minute closed session and the measure was introduced by Trustee Mussab Ali. The resolution was approved 7-1(1), with Trustee Matt Schapiro voting no and outgoing Trustee Amy DeGise abstaining.

The move came just a few hours after Lyles filed a federal lawsuit alleging a hostile work environment after the board voted not to renew her contract and then called for a public hearing on the subject – which was mostly involved public criticisms from teachers – last month.

In between Lyles’ lawsuit becoming public and her termination, the Jersey City Education Association announced that they had unanimously issued a vote of no confidence for Lyles and called on her to step down.

Lyles earns an annual base salary of $231,000 and her contract runs through June 30th, 2020. If she still ends up being let go by the district, taxpayers would be on the hook for her remaining compensation.

A spokesman for the NJ DOE declined to comment beyond what Pearce wrote in her letter.

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