Page 4 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • September 16, 2009 FLOW Area Board of education trustee responds to libel lawsuit by Frank J. McMahon Ira Belsky, the Ramapo Indian Hills Board of Education trustee who has been sued for slander, libel, and a breach of school board policy by Paul Saxton, the former superintendent, has responded to that suit and has filed a formal response to Superior Court. Saxton’s lawsuit was filed based on a statement Belsky made at an April 28, 2008 public meeting in which Belsky criticized Saxton for how the district was managed. He also accused some long term school board members for not holding Saxton and his administration accountable for not attending to matters he described as important to the board and to the primary educational responsibilities of the district. In a written statement, Belsky criticized Saxton. “It is not surprising that former superintendent Saxton would pursue this matter in litigation, and thereby give further evidence of his poor judgment,” the statement reads. “The last of my comments requested an open discussion of the very serious matters I addressed that evening. Rather than respond on a substantive basis to the fact based, truthful remarks I made concerning the governance of the school district, all Saxton did was waste taxpayer resources in a failed effort to have the board censure me. Following that defeat, he then pursued a failed effort to have me reprimanded by the New Jersey School Ethics Commission. Now, in desperation, he hopes to intimidate the school district and its insurers into paying him money. His claims have absolutely no merit and I am confident that this effort will meet the same result as his prior efforts.” In his formal response to the lawsuit in Superior Court, Belsky denies there were any other persons who assisted him in allegedly attempting to harm Saxton. He also denied that he knew, or should have known, that the statements he made as a school board member regarding Saxton were false, or that he acted maliciously and intentionally to damage Saxton’s reputation. He further denies in his legal response that his written statement read at the board meeting contained false statements, and claims his statement speaks for itself as to what it states. Belsky also denies allegations by Saxton in his lawsuit that he knew that any criticism of any board employee should not be made in public without notification of that employee and obtaining that employee’s consent. He described those allegations by Saxton as an averment, or assertion of the law, to which no response is necessary. He leaves the proof of that allegation, and the allegation that his actions violated Saxton’s contractual rights, up to Saxton. Belsky further denies the charge that he engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct with the intention of, and reckless disregard for, the harm caused to Saxton and his family or that Saxton and his family suffered any emotional distress. He further denies that his action interfered with Saxton’s economic situation or future employment opportunities. Belsky provides several separate defenses in his legal response to the lawsuit. He claims the court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of Saxton’s complaint, which is barred by the applicable statute of limitations and other legal limitations; that Saxton has failed to comply with the notice provisions of the New Jersey Tort Claims Act; that he (Belsky) acted at all times in good faith and without malice and did not breach any contract with Saxton; that any damages to Saxton were the result of Saxton’s own acts; that he (Belsky) is not guilty of any negligence, and he violated no duty to Saxton; that any comments attributable to Belsky were fair comments protected by the U.S. Constitution; and that all actions taken by Belsky were based on legitimate, non-discriminatory business reasons. Both Saxton and Belsky have demanded a jury trial on this complaint, which will now wind its way through the court system. 2 Locations Glen Rock & Passaic PASSAIC LOCATION NOW OPEN SUNDAYS! We Offer Line Of Credits And Financing Plans 201.345-5621