Assessing whether he used or attempted to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges, advantages or employment for himself, members of his immediate family or others, the State School Ethics Commission this week determined probable cause in a lawsuit filed against Plainfield School Board Member Richard Wyatt.
The citywide candidate, who is running in the June 8th Democratic Primary against incumbent Mayor Adrian Mapp, called the lawsuit frivolous, and noted his full cooperation with the commission.
In his judgement, Robert W. Bender, chairperson of the School Ethics Commission for the State of New Jersey, noted the following:
“With regard to Respondent Wyatt, Complainants assert that he (Respondent Wyatt) violated N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24(b) because, while his sister-in-law and uncle-in-law were employed in the District, he participated in the search for a new Superintendent, voted in the affirmative to appoint the new Superintendent, and executed the Superintendent’s employment contract on behalf of the Board.
“Respondent Wyatt neither admits nor denies the familial relationship between he and Ms. McCray and/or Mr. McCray; neither admits nor denies that either is employed by the District; and denies that he had a legally conflicted relationship of some sort with Ms. McCray and/or Mr. McCray such that he had an obligation to report those alleged relationships and/or to recuse himself from certain Board matters.
“In order to credit the alleged violation of N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24(b), the Commission must find evidence that Respondent Wyatt used or attempted to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges, advantages or employment for himself, members of his immediate family, or others.
“Following its review of the facts and circumstances, and given its guidance in Advisory Opinion A24-17 (A24-17), the Commission finds probable cause to credit the allegation that Respondent Wyatt violated N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24(b). Although Respondent Wyatt neither admits nor denies that Ms. McCray is his sister-in-law and/or that Mr. McCray is his uncle-in-law, if Complainants can demonstrate that Respondent Wyatt has a familial relationship(s) with a District employee(s) (either Ms. McCray, Mr. McCray, or both), regardless of whether she/he satisfies the definition of member of immediate family, relative, or simply an “other,” and can demonstrate that, during the course of her (Ms. McCray’s) or his (Mr. McCray’s) District employment, Respondent Wyatt participated in a matter(s) concerning the Superintendent – the individual ultimately charged with making all employment decisions regarding their (Ms. McCray’s and Mr. McCray’s) District employment, a violation of N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24(b) may be
Wyatt responded for comment.
“For the record, I am providing this response as a citizen, not as a member of the Board of Education,” the mayoral candidate told InsiderNJ. “I take these accusations seriously, have fully cooperated with the Ethics Commission and intend to continue as the process moves forward. I am proud of my service on the Board of Education and I look forward to the results.
“It is unfortunate that Ms. Pile and members of the current administration have decided to pursue frivolous allegations that seek to damage my reputation rather than focusing on the needs of Plainfield residents,” he added. “This is an attempt to distract the voters as my June 8th campaign for Mayor ensues and should serve as another example of why we so desperately need a change in the Queen City.
“Ms. Pile, who is currently facing and has been the subject of several ethics charges, represents the
old guard of Plainfield. The city needs new ideas to solve the new challenges we all face in our
community. As a fourth-generation resident of Plainfield, I have seen the results of the old guard
and the challenges they have placed upon our citizens.”