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Absecon accuses Pleasantville of stall tactics in quest to leave school send-receive deal
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Absecon accuses Pleasantville of stall tactics in quest to leave school send-receive deal

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ABSECON — School officials in Absecon are seeking to plow ahead with plans to sever a long-standing sending and receiving agreement with the Pleasantville Public Schools, accusing Pleasantville of attempting to delay proceedings.

“While COVID-19 is one reason the case has been delayed, we would be remiss if we did not mention that Pleasantville repeatedly has sought to delay the proceedings,” reads a statement by Absecon school board President Tom Grites, which was expected to be read at Tuesday’s meeting.

Grites’ statement says a judge has denied Pleasantville’s request to delay proceedings indefinitely until the conclusion of a May 2018 lawsuit filed by the Latino Action Network against the state over segregation in schools. The case is pending before Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson.

Karyn White, in-house counsel for Pleasantville Public Schools, said the Absecon school board’s criticism that the Pleasantville school board was seeking to engage in delay tactics “is just unreasonable.”

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“The litigation has been affected by the impact of the health pandemic, as many matters in the courts have been; however, the PBOE has and will continue to meet all its obligations as instructed by the court, and will continue to strongly oppose the ABOE’s efforts to end the sending-receiving relationship between our districts,” White wrote in an emailed response to Absecon.

Absecon, a K-8 district, filed a request in September 2019 with the state education commissioner to end its send-receive relationship with Pleasantville and instead send its high school students to Absegami in Galloway Township. The school board hired special counsel Vito A. Gagliardi Jr. to handle its case.

Hearings with an administrative law judge were set for summer 2020 but postponed to the winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hearing is expected to include several days of testimony between Jan. 19 and March 2, 2021.

“In anticipation of the hearing dates, the board has been working with its attorneys and experts to prepare our arguments and witnesses. However, due to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and the governor’s executive orders, it remains unclear whether any or all of these dates will need to be postponed,” according to the statement from Grites.

Pleasantville has opposed the separation and cites a substantial negative impact to the district racially, educationally and financially.

Contact: 609-272-7251

CLowe@pressofac.com

Twitter @clairelowe

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Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. After seven years at The Current and Gazette newspapers, I joined The Press in 2015. I currently cover education.

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