State Judge Upholds Suspension of Wayne Hills Football Players
Nine players are not allowed to play in Saturday's championship game.
An administrative law judge upheld the suspension of nine Wayne Hills High School football players, barring them from playing in the team's sectional championship game on Saturday.
Judge Elleen Bass denied a motion for emergent relief filed by attorneys for the nine players, who were each charged with aggravated assault following a fight at a private party in October, police said.
Bass upheld a ruling last week by the Wayne Board of Education banning the players from all extracurricular activities, including football, after a four-hour closed door hearing in Newark.
The Board imposed the ban on the nine players, including star wide receiver Andrew Monaghan, 18, on Nov. 25. The other eight players are juveniles.
The players initially filed a petition for emergent relief on the ban with Passaic County Superior Court Judge Thomas Brogan. Brogan did not rule on the application Wednesday, referring the matter to Cref's office. The state’s Bureau of Controversies and Disputes, which assists Cref in hearing testimony and issuing rulings regarding disputes under state school laws, referred the matter to Bass.
Bass's recommendation for upholding the ban will go to Cref, who may accept or reject all or part of it, said Kalman Geist, the attorney representing Monaghan.
"They're punishing the innocent here," said Darren Del Sardo, an attorney representing one of the juveniles.
Geist said Cref would "probably" announce his decision on the matter Friday.
Del Sardo said that that there is a “high standard” when it comes to requesting emergent relief, including proving that irreparable harm would have been done to the players by allowing the ban to remain in effect. Del Sardo said that Bass agreed irreparable harm would be done to the players, who are starters, if they don’t play, but kept the suspensions in place anyway.
“It’s just a real heightened standard that’s hard to overcome,” Del Sardo said. “We tried everything.”
Del Sardo said the Board’s inability to come to a consensus on how to properly discipline the players made the case a difficult one to win.
The players were allowed to participate in the team’s first-and second-round state playoff games Nov. 11 and 18. Citing case law, Interim Superintendent Michael Roth suspended the players from extracurricular activities Nov. 16. The Board placed a stay on the suspensions Nov. 18.
“I just wish the Board didn’t do as much flip-flopping,” Del Sardo said. “I wish they protected the innocent here. They failed.”
The players were charged with aggravated assault after police said they attacked two Wayne Valley High School students after a party on Urban Club Road Oct. 29. Police said one of the students was left unconscious in the street.
Del Sardo said his client was not at the incident and is innocent of the charges brought before him.
“I wish someone would have listened to me so he would have been vindicated today,” Del Sardo said.