We’ve written about Sean Spiller’s conflict of interest—serving on the Board of School Estimate while also serving as the Secretary-Treasurer for NJEA – at length in our previous posts. We’ve repeatedly contented Spiller’s seat on the BoSE represents a conflict because he has competing fiduciary responsibilities – one to taxpayers, who want the most efficient budget possible, and one to his teacher union members, whom he’s obligated to fight for increased benefits, salaries, and positions for.
This spring, Montclair Kids First filed a complaint, which we’ve been following carefully. Back in April, Spiller’s attorneys (the same law firm that represents the NJEA, as we reported) tried to dismiss the case, a motion that was denied by a judge. According to Montclair on Tap:
On April 26, Spiller’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case, of which Judge Moore has now denied. This has resulted in the MEA now having to produce requested documents in the given time frame.
On Friday, May 29, the civil case filed against Spiller was heard before the same judge. Montclair on Tap reported that Spiller claimed that three of the four complaints were dismissed:
Spiller asserts that three of the four complaints were dismissed. He said, “The judge dismissed three of four complaints. No documents have to be produced, as now we go back to court to determine if anything has to be provided for the one count remaining.”
And on the same day, Spiller gave a statement to BaristaNet saying something slightly, but importantly, different:
“Without any surprise, as both the township attorney and my personal attorneys have reviewed the matter extensively and determined the claims to be baseless, a judge dismissed three of MFK’s claims outright without even hearing them. With only one claim even remaining, once heard, that too will be judged baseless.”
In the comment he gave to BaristaNet, Spiller said the judge dismissed three of MKF’s claims without even hearing them. In fact, that’s not even close to being true. Conveniently, Montclair Kids First posted the judge’s actual order on their website…
According to the Order, the Court considered the submissions and arguments of counsel. In other words, they heard the arguments, despite what Spiller said.
And more importantly, the claims weren’t dismissed. In fact, not only were they not dismissed, three of the four claims were actually UPHELD by the judge – Spiller didn’t just lie, he lied brazenly:
As you can see from the order, the civil rights complaint was dismissed, but the motions to dismiss the other three were all denied.
Spiller also suggested that they would never have to turn over any documents, but the order actually says exactly the opposite – directing the parties to begin the discovery process.
TAP Into Montclair got it exactly right with their headline:
“Judge Rules to Uphold MKF’s Complaint Against Spiller; Spiller Responds”
Unfortunately, other local media let Spiller advance his lies about the case, and didn’t bother to do their own reporting on it. As a public servant, we’d expect that Spiller’s integrity would be better than this, and it’s disappointing that he’s electing to lie directly to his constituents and the media on this case.