After Elizabeth City Mayor Chris Bollwage tweeted that all district teachers who participated in a strike over stalled negotiations would lose opportunities for promotions, parents and teachers responded harshly. Now Politico is reporting that Sanford Oxfeld, a labor and employment lawyer at a Newark-based firm Oxfeld Cohen, P.C., sent a letter on Monday to Bollwage, warning him that he was in danger of violating the State School Ethics Act, that his tweet was “spurious,” and that he has defamed Elizabeth Education Association President John Griffin.
I want to be as clear as possible up front, there is not a shred of truth in your assertion. As our courts have held it is illegal for a public school employee to go on ‘strike’, you have attributed to EEA President John Griffin an illegal action.
As there is absolutely no truth in that utterance, it seems you have met the definition of defaming Mr. Griffin. Elizabeth has an unfortunate history of much too much outside political interference in the running of its schools. The School Ethics Act exists for a reason and provides its own enforcement procedures. I hope you realize the damage your intemperate posting has already done to the concepts embodied in said Act and that you will be able to curb your tendencies in the future.
Oxfeld’s letter comes after Bollwage’s tweet last week (below) which threatened all district teachers and other staff members. As NJ Ed Report has recounted, the school district has a long history of corruption, with little oxygen between the school board, City Council, and Union County officials. After the tweet, Leonardo Caramazana, vice president of the union, called Bollage’s attack “an abuse of power,” adding, “nothing has more clearly shown the inappropriate relationship between the mayor and the board.”
It is unclear if Oxfeld or the state teachers union NJEA plans to press ethics charges against Bollwage. Stay tuned.
As I said in June the Elizabeth Education Assoc President John Griffin is planning a strike on the first week of school after rejecting a 10% plus raise.Any one who participates will never receive a promotion.
— Chris Bollwage (@MayorBollwage) August 24, 2022