CHARTER SCHOOL WINS LAWSUIT

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The Red Bank Charter School has won the latest round in a lawsuit over the settlement of two earlier disputes arising from the construction of its Oakland Street campus.

Three former members of the school’s board of trustees — Vincent Crapelli, William Moore and Josephine Lee — sued after the board settled in 20o7. They claimed the board didn’t have the authority to take the actions.

One of settlements at issue in the appeal put to rest a lawsuit brought by Patock Construction over $491,000 owed from the 2004 relocation of the former Century House mansion from East Front Street to its present location on Oakland Street, where it was joined to the former Oakland Street School to create the charter school complex.

The other end a lawsuit by Short Term Money LLC over $800.000 in financing of the project.

In May 2005, the state Department of Education slapped the school with a $1 million fine for violating public bidding laws on the project. In September 2006, the fine was slashed to $55,000 aftter the education commissioner found the school had implemented adequate controls.

The Crapelli appeal arose from the education commissioner’s decision. The former trustees tried to stop the payments from the settlements, arguing that the board had not put the project out to bid and overstepped its authority in settling the suits.

But in an opinion released Monday, a two-judge panel of the state Appellate Division rejected what it termed a “confusing mélange of arguments” and found in favor of the school, writing that a failure to setttle the suits might have bankrupted the school

Today’s Asbury Park Press, in an article on the decision, quotes board president Bruce Whittaker.

“It (settlement) was clearly the only option to leave it a viable school, it was a straight forward business decision,” said Bruce Whitaker, current trustee president. “We’re obviously happy the court agreed.”

Here’s the full text of the Appellate decision.