Join Our Telegram Channel


New Jersey State attorneys today pushed back against the motion recently filed by R' Aron (Arthur) Lang and his co-counsel Professor Paul Trachtenberg, which seeks for the New Jersey Education Department to expedite their Court-ordered remand which requires them to "thoroughly review that the State's funding structure is unconstitutional as applied to Lakewood's unique demographic situation."

Rather, they argue "let's be sure that a well- reasoned, supported decision is issued at the appropriate time."

As the news was broken here on FAA News, on March 6, in a massive win for Lakewood's taxpayers and students, the New Jersey Appellate Division granted a major win to Arthur Lang in his long running lawsuit known as Alcantra vs. Hespe, which seeks for a fairer funding formula for the Lakewood Public School District.

The 3-judge panel concluded that the record generated before the Administrate Law Judge (ALJ) cannot fairly be said to support a finding Lakewood's students are receiving a constitutionally sound education, and therefore, the Commissioner of Education owed the appellants a thorough review of their substantive argument - that the funding structure of the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) was unconstitutional as applied to Lakewood's unique demographic situation.

The issue with this long awaited ruling, however, is that the Appellate Division did not set any deadline for when this "review on remand" is to occur.

On April 19, 2023, Professor Trachtenberg wrote to Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education, noting that it was already 44 days since the release of the Appellate Division's decision and yet, just the day before he presented extensive testimony at a hearing of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, and in response to pointed questions and comments about the Alcantara case from Senator Paul Sarlo, the committee chair, and Senator Teresa Ruiz, a committee member, he "professed to know nothing about the case and his explicit responsibilities on its remand."

"Throughout this almost nine-year long litigation, mostly in the Office of Administrative
Law and before you, my co-counsel and I have repeatedly urged, obviously without notable
success, that time is of the essence for these students, especially since 100% of them are low-
income and 95% of them are Latino and Black. Now we know definitively, thanks to the Appellate Division’s unanimous decision which the State has chosen not to seek to bring to the Supreme Court, that our repeated claims throughout the litigation—that Lakewood’s public school students are being denied their constitutional level of education—were correct all along. It is long past time for the State to acknowledge and fully remedy those grievous constitutional failures.

"Unless you can assure me immediately that your final decision on the Appellate Division’s March 6, 2023 remand to you in the Alcantara case will issue within 10 days, my co-counsel Arthur Lang and I will have to pursue a more formal avenue for assuring an expeditious final decision from you," Professor Trachtenberg concluded.

Having received no response at all from the Education Commissioner, as previously reported here on FAA News, on May 1, Professor Trachtenberg and Mr. Lang filed a formal Motion for Emergency Relief seeking for the Commissioner of Education to complete the remand by May 15, 2023.

Under the 1982 case known as Crowe v. DeGioia, the New Jersey Supreme Court articulated the following four standards in which a Motion for Emergency Relief can be granted:

1. The moving party will suffer irreparable harm if the requested relief is not granted;
2. The legal right underlying the moving party’s claim is settled;
3. The moving party has a likelihood of prevailing on the merits of the underlying claim; and
4. When the equities and interests of the parties are balanced, the moving party will suffer
greater harm than the respondent will suffer if the requested relief is not granted.

The motion documents cite their case as to why they meet the Crowe standards, concluding "the State’s funding failures with respect to the
Lakewood school district over many years have caused the public school students grievous harm
that will likely burden them throughout their lives. This, in turn, will harm the State of New Jersey, which desperately needs the good citizens and productive competitors in the labor market
that T&E is designed to produce. That is at the heart of the New Jersey Supreme Court rulings in
Abbott v. Burke. Any further needless delay in providing those students with their constitutional
rights can only exacerbate the severe harm they and our state have already suffered. By contrast, it is hard to imagine that the State respondents will suffer any cognizable harm by being required to provide an expeditious remedy to those students as the New Jersey Constitution requires."

Today, Deputy Attorney General Carolyn G. Labin, from the New Jersey Attorney General's Office responded with a letter in Opposition to the Petitioners’ motion for emergent relief.

The Opposition argues that the Petitioners' motion for emergent relief must be denied as they "have failed to demonstrate they are entitled to such relief under the Crowe standard because they cannot demonstrate that they will prevail on all four of the Crowe factors: Petitioners have not demonstrated a likelihood of success nor irreparable harm. It is not clear they will prevail on the issue of whether the SFRA is unconstitutional as applied to the District. Indeed, the Appellate Division acknowledged as much when it remanded the matter to the Commissioner. Moreover, even if the Commissioner finds the SFRA is unconstitutional as applied to the District, the remedy to the District would be an adjustment of funding, which is not irreparable as it is monetary relief. Also, Petitioners have not shown they will suffer any greater harm if their motion is denied.

"The Appellate Division neither retained jurisdiction nor expedited the remand. Instead, the Commissioner is entitled to and should issue a well- reasoned, supported decision, considering the cause of the deprivation of T&E to the District’s students in due course. Petitioners’ request to rush the Commissioner does not further anyone’s interest. Accordingly, Petitioners’ motion should be denied."

As the Lakewood Board of Education seeks yet another $97 million loan to cover their unsustainable budget, the Board has not gone on the record with any statement as to the State's push to continue delaying appropriately funding Lakewood's school budget.

To join a FAA WhatsApp Group, click here.

To join the FAA WhatsApp Status, click here.

No comments: