Suspended Asbury schools chief to get $169G
BOE settles part of lawsuit superintendent filed when he was removed in "03

ASBURY PARK — The Board of Education has approved a payment of $169,500 to 
suspended Schools Superintendent Antonio Lewis that represents the settlement 
of just a 
portion of a lawsuit Lewis filed against the board the first time he was 
removed from his 
post late in 2003.

State education officials reinstated Lewis in June 2004, and he oversaw the 
district for two 
more years before a subsequent school board, with different people in power, 
suspended him in September 2006.

The board tried to buy Lewis out the second time he was removed for $600,000. 
But state 
education officials stopped the buyout, and the state Attorney General's Office 
began an 
investigation of Lewis' central office operations. No findings have been 
released, and Lewis 
has continued to be paid just under $188,000 a year.

His contract, which he received after being reinstated, expires in June 2009. 
The board 
this fall started a search for a new superintendent.

Board Attorney Alan Schnirman said Tuesday that part of Lewis' original lawsuit 
against the 
board is still in court, but the district settled certain portions early on.

"This was settled to protect the board's members and the board's interests 
certain of the claims are not covered by board insurance," Schnirman said.

The settlement amount was $150,000, and the $169,500 total approved to be paid 
week reflects interest that accumulated when the payment was not immediately 
school board members said last week.

It was not clear Tuesday why the payment was delayed, resulting in extra 
thousands going 
to Lewis. Schnirman said he was not sure why. A lawyer for an insurance carrier 
is handling 
the overall case, Schnirman said.

The only members still on the board from the first time Lewis was suspended are 
Sanders, who was his supporter, and Robert DiSanto, who voted to suspend him 
but later 
attempted to work with Lewis when he was reinstated in 2004.

In Lewis' first suspension on Dec. 10, 2003, the board brought tenure charges 
him, based in large part on a state education report critical of several areas 
in which the 
district was found to be still deficient.

But by early April of 2004, a state administrative law judge said the charges 
that Lewis 
was not improving the district appeared to constitute inefficiency, not 
removal, and 
required that Lewis be given at least 90 days to address those issues.

William Librera, the state education commissioner at that time, reinstated 
Lewis in June 
2004. During that time, Superior Court Judge Lawrence M. Lawson also ruled the 
board, under its then-president, Remond Palmer, had shown a "blatant disregard" 
for the 
Open Public Meetings Act during the process of attempting to get Lewis out.

Once reinstated in 2004, Lewis and the board, under new president Di-Santo, 
to work together, and Lewis got a new multiyear contract. Eventually, however, 
working relationship broke down.


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