Murphy administration sues NJ schools, and making them pay state’s legal fees
The Attorney General's Office is trying to discourage New Jersey school districts from following Hanover in eliminating the state's transgender policy after it was pointed out that the policy is guidance and not a mandate.
After a courtroom admission on Sept. 6 by Deputy Attorney General James Michael that policy 5756 is not mandatory, the Hanover Board of Education voted in a special meeting Monday to eliminate the policy.
Attorney General Matt Platkin filed an order Wednesday that would force Hanover to keep Policy 5756 in compliance with an August 24 court ruling. Because Platkin believes the Hanover Board of Education violated that ruling with the Sept. 11 vote, he is ordering the local board to pay for the state's legal fees.
"I'm trying just to process this now that the state is asking for legal fees on lawsuits that they are bringing against boards, and it's taxpayer money on both ends," Middletown Board of Education Vice Chair Jacqueline Tobacco told New Jersey 101.5.
Other districts considered following Hanover
After the Hanover vote, Tobacco said she and representatives from nearly two dozen districts met via Zoom to discuss their options about doing the same thing. Platkin's newest order has led some districts that were considering a repeal to think twice, according to Tobacco.
"I think it's an intimidation factor to start demanding that boards of ed use taxpayer money to pay the state's legal bills regarding the state's lawsuits that they are bringing. Nobody can understand it. Not one person I've spoken to can understand it. And not just the Board of Ed members, attorneys cannot understand how they're how they're asking that," Tobacco said. "We are all under a fine line of protecting the children and protecting taxpayers.
School districts running into trouble in court
The Boards of Education in Colts Neck and Howell both declined to put their own policies in effect because of a potentially expensive legal action.
Tobacco said that Manalapan, Marlboro and Middletown which were also ordered by a judge to keep the state's policy in place will not take a vote to eliminate the policy. The attorney for the Marlboro Board of Education, Marc Zitomer, told New Jersey 101.5 he had concerns from a legal point of view that repealing the policy would violate the court order.
Democrats are also starting to question the involvement of the courts by Platkin.
"This policy is not mandatory, it’s a guidance-only policy. And it’s from the Christie administration. Very strange. Why involve the courts," state Sen. Joe Cryan, D-Union, wrote on his X (former Twitter) account.