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Update: Wayne Hills Football Players Sue School Board

Lawyer seeks stay on board's ruling that states players are banned from playing in sectional championship game Saturday.

The nine football players banned from participating in the team’s sectional championship game this Saturday are suing the Board of Education and Interim Superintendent Michael Roth.

The players, including star wide receiver Andrew Monaghan, 18,  two students after a party on Urban Club Road Oct. 29. All nine have been charged with aggravated assault.

Woodland Park-based attorney Ron Ricci filed the suit in Superior Court Tuesday morning on behalf of the players. 

Ricci is seeking an injunction on the ban barring the players from participating in extracurricular activities, claiming their right to due process was violated.

Ricci contends that the board did not provide the players ample opportunity to challenge the suspensions when it upheld a Nov. 16 ruling by Roth, which  from participating in extracurricular activities.

According to the suit, the board originally told the players that no witnesses would be allowed to testify in a closed-door hearing Nov. 17, but then allowed two witnesses to testify. As a result, the plaintiffs did not bring all of their witnesses to the hearing, the suit states.

The Board of Education in extracurricular activities pending another hearing Nov. 29. But the Nov. 25 after another closed-door hearing took place. No testimony was allowed at that meeting.

“You have to have an opportunity to be heard on why you’re being suspended,” Ricci said.

The complaint states that barring the nine players, eight of whom are minors and their full names not included in the suit, from participating in extracurricular activities will “result in irreparable harm to the students if not stayed.”

Ricci is also concerned that the students’ identities will be revealed if they are not allowed to play on Saturday.

Revealing the identities of the eight minor students, Ricci states in the complaint, “will undermine the whole intent behind our State’s public policy about the way to handle juveniles accused of matters that would be considered crimes if they were adults, and the juveniles will suffer irreparable harm.”

Ricci also argues that not allowing the students to participate in “the most important game of their careers as athletes” may affect their admittance into college and their ability to obtain scholarships and play football at the collegiate level.

Ricci contends that the suspensions are illegal and that the board voted to suspend the students due to “political and public pressure.”

The complaint also states that neither the board nor Roth provided the students with any explanation regarding their decision to suspend the players.

The board has “no written policy on taking action against students for off-campus, non-school-related behavior” and that there is “no student handbook or regulation which would give notice to the students as to prohibited conduct nor sanctions that would be imposed," according to the suit. 

Northjersey.com reported Tuesday that Superior Court Judge Thomas Brogan is scheduled to hold a preliminary hearing in the matter at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday in Paterson.

Roth declined comment Tuesday. 

Ricci filed a petition for emergent relief with Christopher Cref, acting commissioner of the state’s Department of Education Monday. The attorney is asking for a hearing to determine if a stay can be placed on the decision, arguing that the board's actions violated the state’s administrative code.

“We have two different avenues we’re going in because we want to make sure one of them gets heard before Saturday,” Ricci said. “There are two different legal issues: one is a violation of administrative code, the other is a violation of due process.”

Board President Donald Pavlak Jr. said he was not aware that the petition was filed. Pavlak declined further comment.

Albert November 30, 2011 at 05:40 PM
WOW, the judge dismissed this case pretty quickly.
Dory Degen November 30, 2011 at 05:46 PM
I see. But isn't it within the coach's realm, not the principal's, to direct the players' consequence? I am not trying to be argumentative, just trying to understand how it works. So you are saying because the coach didn't act, the principal should have stepped in, but as we know didn't. ?
irapasses November 30, 2011 at 05:51 PM
http://wayne.patch.com/articles/judge-dismisses-complaint-without-prejudice go home
Schoolinsider November 30, 2011 at 06:00 PM
Exactly Dory - The sad reality is...those WH players would have been more likely to have been suspended by Olsen if they showed up to practice late than if they were charged with Agg Assault. PS - Im glad the judge ended this. The grown ups are back in charge.
Dory Degen November 30, 2011 at 06:10 PM
No that wasn't Gillian with Angela. That was Louise, her writer friend she met and bailed out of a ticket for wearing a short skirt at the beach remember?
irapasses November 30, 2011 at 06:11 PM
you're naive to think the children. their parents and their attorneys will just go away now. they will definitely continue on with their charade hoping that they will find a sucker. Next it gets heard by Christies Commisioner of Education. It would be shocking to see him overturn this because then the HIB policy would be worthless.
Dory Degen November 30, 2011 at 06:14 PM
That is pathetic, becasue it is probably true that the players probably would get more flack for being late to a practice then for getting arrested. PS to your PS....I wish he ended it. But it reads as though he transferred it to the Com of Ed. Lets see how fast Ricci can scurry up a meeting with the COE before Saturday's game.
irapasses November 30, 2011 at 06:42 PM
the administrative judge stated that there will be a hearing on Thursday with the COE. If the COE does not make a decision then he will take the case back. That would be the best result in the long run because it would establish new case law and remove any further appeals and lawsuits. If the COE does not rule in their behavior they will make another appeal to the adminitrative judge based on a constitutional rights violation.
Albert November 30, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Anyone who has kids in either Wayne HS, or any of the middle schools, knows who ALL 9 boys are. To be honest, I was surprised at a few of them, knowing their parents. But what surprises me even more, is these parents that I thought I knew and thought they would do the right thing. Turns out I was dead wrong, and they have shown their true colors.
Al Scala November 30, 2011 at 07:19 PM
The more time spent by the attorney, scurrying around to get this matter heard by anyone who'll listen to him, the more cost to the parents. WOW! GOD Bless these people.
Frank November 30, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Dory, Ah yes... my bad!
Rich November 30, 2011 at 09:50 PM
Albert , you are unfortunately correct. Yes most of us with kids in the two high schools know who the kids are. It is all over facebook. On the other side of it, we have close family friends, with a Boy on the team (Uninvolved at the party or fight) . We hung out over the long weekend and I will tell you first hand that the apologists who post here and will have you believe everyone who is involved as a parent or student at Hills is in lock step, are way off. Our friends are mortified that this is happening. Their son is quite a good athlete, and doesn’t go to the liquor parties and get involved with all the non sense, and he is not the only one. There is a divide there, but it is being kept under wraps for now.
Former Valley Gal November 30, 2011 at 10:25 PM
@Anne As WayneResident stated, the policy you quoted referred to being removed from the educational program- i.e., suspended from school. As far as I know, outside of Phys. Ed classes, football games and activities fall under extracurricular activities. Yes, they may have some educational VALUE, but they're not part of the required curriculum. I have no "jealousy" that I did not attend Hills, and I have to say the fact you felt you needed to point that out makes me laugh. The fault here lies with the Board of Education and the High School administration in properly following the HIB protocol, since its evident they're now trying to apply HIB policies after the fact. The BOE in Wayne has really driven the school district into the ground- it's extremely depressing to watch from afar. All that aside, I still stand by what I've said all along here- if "the Nine" had been benched by the coach the first game, we most likely would not be arguing over the circus this entire thing has become. Also curious, since nothing has been said, what's the status of the two young men who were assaulted?
Former Valley Gal November 30, 2011 at 10:34 PM
Very well said, thank you.
Anne December 01, 2011 at 01:41 AM
@Wayne Resident: You helped me convey my point…knowing they had a big game coming up…why would they jeopardize it? This goes against logic. I am not condoning fighting; I do condone finding the truth. There is information that has been circulated which is inaccurate. I am attempting to make people realize that not everything they read in print is true. Also, everyone needs to ask themselves what if it was one of your children that were falsely accused? It is my job to seek truth even if it is not what the general consensus wants to hear.
Anne December 01, 2011 at 01:42 AM
@Wayne Resident: Extra-curricular activities are also listed under this same policy.
Anne December 01, 2011 at 01:42 AM
@Dory: Now, now Dory…you know what they say about people living in glass homes… Here are some of your past posts: “…oooooh ok i see where you all got confused. (*sarcasm*)”…SEE YOU USE SARCASM. “…you are just now catching on to still in town 78? unemployed, never married, no kids and lives in his mother's basement. he doesn't leave his computer.” and “as for who he really is i can offer a brief forensic psychological profile based on the limited info here: I would say someone with a low sense of esteem and importance, resentful of his underacheivements, living in other's shadows, slightly grandiose but blames his lack of success on some sort of victimization preventing him from reaching higher goals, and obsessed with this topic as evidenced by his apparent need to appoint himself the important role of defending the kids in a way that suggests he thinks only he can do, and perhaps Coach Olsen who he may be looking for approval from. Single or divorced white male, no children, late 40's to mid 50s. …SEE YOU USE INSULTS. “…which leads me to add this; your relationship with your own father is poor in some capacity.”…SEE YOU USE SHAME. Now Dory please do not be the pot calling the kettle black. We have more than enough hypocrites on this site.
Anne December 01, 2011 at 01:43 AM
@Willy: Wow, little Willy you really are obsessed with that blonde. How sad! You are bordering on becoming a pervert! Why do articulate women threaten you so much? Unfortunately, for you I am not that blonde, I apologize in advance for ruining your delusional fantasy. Hey, since you don’t take the time to use spell check ever…maybe you can use that extra time you have and purchase some of those enhancing pills for that little problem of yours so that you don’t have to continuously degrade women for your tiny inadequacies.
Anne December 01, 2011 at 01:44 AM
@Eyes Wide Shut: Keep those eyes closed dear and continue with those compliments. Thank you. People like you make it so easy. It is just like shooting fish in a barrel.
Anne December 01, 2011 at 01:46 AM
@irapasses: Yes, we do have a common thread…it is called intelligence. Eyes wide shut don't make me call you out!
Anne December 01, 2011 at 01:46 AM
@Ron: Um, this is wayne.patch.com…not match.com. No one is looking to date you here…gross. Oh and by the way my husband said 40 lbs. is weak. I concur as well; my trainer has me start with a 45 lbs. plate. Good try though...once an athlete always an athlete. Also, as I have mentioned previously due process applies to suspensions which encompass extra-curricular activities. It is in the BOE policy.
Anne December 01, 2011 at 01:55 AM
@Former Valley Gal: Below is quoted from the statement made on behalf of the members of the Wayne Township Board of Education. “…We had board members who asked that this matter be reviewed as a possible case of Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB). Based on the information provided at this time, the board was advised that this incident was not an HIB matter…” There you go, HIB does not apply.
Ron December 01, 2011 at 02:39 AM
Anne LOL I love the match.com line. Maybe 40lbs is weak, try 1,500 hundred a day and let me know how far you get.
eyes wide shut December 01, 2011 at 02:47 PM
@Anne YOU would know about barrels...And you have that in common with the empty ones, as you know they do make the most noise...GENIUS
eyes wide shut December 01, 2011 at 02:51 PM
Anne you can TRY and call me out anytime...
Scondo December 01, 2011 at 04:13 PM
Is the booster club paying the fees ?
exWaynefan December 02, 2011 at 05:27 PM
I keep reading this argument that schools can't suspend students from extra-curricular activities for incidents that happen off school grounds. YES, they can! Any child involved can be suspended for bad behavior! Whether it happens on school grounds or NOT! It happens everyday! Players are suspended for a multitude of reasons, and the punishment is deemed fit by the coaches who's teams THEY REPRESENT! A suspension in this case was MORE than fitting due to the "nature" of the arrests! And the fact that NOTHING WAS DONE, except for this poor display of defiance and aggressive bullying by Olsen and these parents against the school that ALL 9 players REPRESENT! It is disturbing to say the least. Let me ask this: If Olsen had suspended any of his players, let's say, because they were 'arrested' for illegal drug activity outside of school, or "let's say", failing more than one class, or, "let's say" being involved in an incident that "HE" deemed worthy of suspension from games....would we be having this argument? NO! We ALL know that Olsen could have made a decision to "do the right thing". And if anything, AT LEAST DO THE RIGHT THING for "whichever" of the 9 claim they are innocent, by taking a stand against those HE KNOWS are not! But instead, he jumped balls first into protecting ALL of them of their right to play! Now ask yourself why there is such outrage over this. Because personally, I believe Olsen is the one who made a mess of this, and it needs to be corrected!
ETS December 02, 2011 at 10:04 PM
I've been reading stories and comments for a few weeks and the more I read, the more I realize: 1) I don't know enough about this case to agree or disagree with the decision. Initially, my thought was: suspend them. Now... I just don't know. Were they all there? Did they all take part in the fight? Was the Valley student so badly beaten? There seems to be a lot of unanswered questions. One question that I've not seen raised, which is a bit surprising; who were the adults who allowed kids to drink at a party. From all reports - even in the press - alcohol was involved and there was a home party. 2) Strictly from reading the comments on all of the stories of the 9 football players: I'm not convinced people really believe they shouldn't play; this seems a vendetta against the head coach. I don't know him - don't know a thing about him - but he figures in too many comments for this not to be all about him.
Dory Degen December 03, 2011 at 04:12 PM
People are very disappointed in the way the coach behaved after his players were arrested for a felony. There is more to being a coach than winning games, which he is great at. Teaching life lessons, not so much. That is why people are disturbed by the coach's attitude and behavior. Apparently a superintendent and at least 2 judges agree.
Dory Degen December 03, 2011 at 04:13 PM
Amen brotha! Please reconsider your name....Wayne isn't all bad.

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