The Lakewood School District has just been slammed with a lawsuit alleging non-compliance with an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for records relating to their contract with the LSTA which coordinates busing for Lakewood's private schools, FAA News has learned.

The lawsuit was filed by Attorney Larry Loigman.

On September 15th, an OPRA request was submitted to the Lakewood School District seeking numerous records pertaining to their busing contracts with LSTA, including correspondence between District officials and the LSTA as to transportation routes, bidding, schedules, employees; guidelines governing bus providers; complaints regarding student transportation services; audits, and evaluations of the LSTA and the services they provide; correspondence between the School District officials and Township officials as to transportation services and as to formation and organization of the LSTA; and correspondence between School District officials and any state senator or assemblyman as to transportation services for pupils and as to formation and organization of the LSTA.

On September 28th, the School District's Custodian of records responded "See attached link below with some documents you have requested. I have a flash drive for you to pick up that I am unable to email over because the documents are too large. You may come to pick it up before 4 today or anytime from 8-4 tomorrow. Also, we will need a 2-week extension for the remaining documents that you have requested."

The next day, the School District's Custodian of records received a response advising that the request for a two week extension of time was denied.

Under the New Jersey OPRA laws, custodian of records are required to fulfill all requests within 7 business days. The law stipulated that custodians may request an extension of time "if the government record is in storage or archived" provided that the custodian "notifies the requestor in writing, within the 7 business days and provides an anticipated deadline date upon which the records will be provided." The law also stipulates that "the length of the extension must be reasonable under the circumstances."

Attorney Loigman has now filed a lawsuit in Ocean County Superior Court alleging that the School District's Custodian "failed, refused and neglected to provide access to some or all of the government records or records requested therein, within the time provided for by OPRA for a response by the records custodian."

The lawsuit seeks for a judge to order that the records sought "shall forthwith be delivered", as well as "for costs and fees, including attorney’s fees; as well as for such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and equitable."

In a supplemental letter to the Court, Mr. Loigman charges that "the custodian did not explain why the response would be delayed, and did not provide a certification that he had searched for records which were the subject of the requests", and that "almost none of the records seeked were provided and that attempts to discuss the matter with District officials have led no where."

"Therefore, the Court should require Defendants to provide access to all of the records immediately, or to identify the records as to which access has been denied, and to justify their refusal to permit access. The Court should also order payment of attorney’s fees and costs by Defendants for their failure to comply with OPRA," Mr. Loigman concluded.

In addition to the Verified Complaint, the lawsuit also includes an Order to Show Cause which seeks for a judge to schedule an immediate hearing on the matter. No judge has yet signed this Order which was just filed.

Is there a attempted takedown of the LSTA in the works here?

As previously reported here on FAA News, Jackson Township's former Councilman and current Assemblyman Alex Sauickie has introduced legislation that would alleviate the fiscal and administrative costs for schools districts associated with providing transportation services to nonpublic students - similar to the original LSTA pilot program which expired after 3 years and was not renewed, but with a twist that it would cover all nonpublic school student transportation in Howell, Lakewood, Toms River, Jackson, Brick and Manchester Townships. If this bill is approved, it is quite likely that the Administration will be more regional than "Lakewood-community based" as LSTA currently is.

It is likely that the current OPRA request and its lawsuit is connected to Assemblyman Sauickie's efforts to "revamp" the LSTA.

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Anonymous said...

הלואי. About time

Anonymous said...

Certain folks in town are trying to replace the LSTA with a new Authority which will not be beholden to the Lakewood Vaad, Igud etc (as they work begins the scenes to ensure that certain schools get busing first...). They got Assemblyman Sauickie to introduce legislation to make this a reality. They submitted this OPRA request to find records that would prove that LSTA isn't doing a proper job. Now that the Board of Education (who is of course supported by the Vaad and Igud) is stalling on providing the records, they filed this lawsuit to get the records moving - so they can properly arm Sauickie.

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing a recent article in The Lakewood Shopper about som e serious problems with the bussing in town. Why don’t we all unite to fix it? You prob should post that article here for all to see

Anonymous said...

All hogwash. The case will be thrown out pronto. Larry Loigman is a disgrace and we should do a recall election on him from Fire Commissioner.

Ahron said...

You're wrong. He's a great guy and did a fantastic job representing me when I hired him for a legal matter. I wish we had another Larry Loigman so we could have 2 of him as fire commissioners. It's good to have smart people which actually know what they're doing!

Anonymous said...

LSTA is corrupt.