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Central Bucks School Board Member Blasts Litigants’ Settlement Demand

Central Bucks School Board member Jim Pepper gave a fiery speech at the Oct. 10 meeting.

At issue are equal pay cases brought by teachers Rebecca Cartee-Haring and Dawn Marinello. Marinello’s case is now a class action with some 360 female teachers on board. Cartee-Haring’s husband, Rick Haring, a Democrat, is running for a seat on the school board next month.

Pepper, a plaintiff’s lawyer, blasted teachers suing the district and its lawyer for pressing the district to settle the cases for $120 million, money he said the district does not have “sitting around.”

Pepper noted that CBSD’s attorney, Michael Levin, told the board that based on the facts, the district would prevail.

“First off and most importantly, the district’s lawyer has said unequivocally there has been no unlawful discrimination in our district,” said Pepper. “None.”

“People think that once a complaint is filed, that is the end of the story… That is not how our legal system works,” said Pepper. There is discovery (where each side turns over evidence) and then motion practice, he said, before a trial would begin.

“This is what I do for a living,” said Pepper. “Strange (for) a party to settle before discovery is concluded. Before summary judgments are filed. Such demands are a sign of weakness. If you think you have a good case, you put it on.

“The district has the legal right and the obligation to  vigorously defend itself,” Pepper continued, noting the settlement requested “equates to one-third of its annual operating budget.”

“If the board flips, they will settle. Period,” said Pepper. “But who’s going to pay? The district? What is the district?”

Under Act 1, school boards cannot raise taxes by more than four percent unless the district qualifies for exceptions, so it would need to ask the voters for approval. Pepper said taxes would need to be raised 50 percent.

Levin said the district would have to sell property, lay off staff, and cut programs to satisfy the plaintiff’s demands.

In a social media post, Marinello called that scenario “a fear tactic to the largest degree.”

“Furthermore, they conveniently neglect how Central Bucks School District has $1.4 billion in real estate holdings,” she said.

“Do these people know what sits on this real estate? Schools and playing fields, parking lots,” Pepper said. “The plaintiffs have suggested we mortgage the properties.”

In a July 27 court filing, plaintiffs’ lawyer, Ed Mazurek, suggested if the board changes from Republican to Democratic control, it would likely settle the case.

“That presents the potential for newly elected board members to constitute a majority supporting settlement. Indeed, even if all five candidates who would be new to the board are not elected, those who could combine with current members who are not running this year and will remain on the board to support settlement,” Mazurek wrote in the filing.

School Board President Dana Hunter, a Republican running for reelection, told DVJournal that Mazurek met with the Democratic candidates to find out if they would settle, but the five Republican candidates refused to meet with him.

Haring has said he would recuse himself from voting on whether to settle his wife’s case, but it would be likely to be settled if Marinello’s is.

In an email to DVJournal, Cartee-Haring said, “My case was not part of the settlement demand. CBSD did not allow me to opt into the collective action. I did not send a demand letter, nor did Ed Mazurek send one on my behalf; my concern has always been the fact that Dana Hunter did not brief the entire board on the cases even when a federal judge directed (Superintendent) Abe Lucabaugh to do so.”

Asked about that, Hunter said the legal filings list both cases together as the plaintiffs. However, she noted Cartee-Haring has filed several lawsuits against the district, starting with one regarding a coaching contract not being renewed. She demanded $750,000 for a $7,000 to $8,000 extracurricular job. Another one alleged the principal at Central Bucks West, where she teaches English, retaliated against her, Hunter said.

As for the board not being briefed on the case, Hunter asked how Cartee-Haring would know since briefings on legal matters occur in executive session unless “someone is releasing confidential information.”

Hunter added all board members were trained on what is or is not allowed. That included a mandate not to communicate with someone suing the district.

Tim Daly filed right-to-know requests and received emails from board member Tabitha Dell’Angelo showing she and Cartee-Haring exchanged several emails regarding the case. DVJournal obtained those emails. Dell-Angelo did not respond to requests for comment. She is not running for reelection.

In one message between the pair dated Aug. 28, 2022, Dell’Angelo wrote, “And I have never even gotten one update about your case in my position as a school director.”

Cartee-Haring responded, “Thank you! I believe the district is going to appeal the judge’s decision to the 3rd Circuit…so the fight continues.”

“We have multiple candidates saying to settle, including Mrs. Haring’s husband, Rick Haring, saying to settle,” Pepper said.

“In the past year, we’ve seen people threatening to burn this district down, incessant attacks, lies, smears, threatening children, my children, endangering children. And last month, the coup de grace: violence,” said Pepper.

At the September meeting, Dell’Angelo’s husband picked up a chair and appeared ready to throw it at Daly before someone intervened.


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Angry Dem Operative Goes ‘Bobby Knight’ With Folding Chair at CBSB Meeting

Steve Sullivan, Central Bucks School Board Member Tabitha Dell’Angelo’s husband, picked up a chair and appeared to brandish it as a weapon during a tense moment at a school board meeting Tuesday evening.

Tim Daly, a speaker at the meeting, had criticized Dell’Angelo, referring to the results of his various right-to-know requests. Daly said he had proof Dell’Angelo was using her work emails at The College of New Jersey for district business and that she had reached out to the state School Boards Association to ask how to get away with leaking information.

Daly then tried to drop those papers on a chair next to Sullivan as he returned to his seat but said they accidentally flew out of his hand.

“I said, ‘Here are your wife’s emails for you to take a look at, buddy,’” Daly said.

That was when Sullivan picked up the metal folding chair and turned toward Daly but was prevented by Lela Casey, who grabbed the chair leg. Another man stopped Sullivan from walking further, and then two police officers came into the room and escorted Sullivan out.

The official video of the school board meeting does not show the incident but is focused on a list of names of the speakers.

“Oh my gosh,” someone says, and there are unintelligible voices until a board recess is announced.

Mara Witsen filmed the incident and posted it to @protectbucks on X (Twitter).

Resident Paul Martino also spoke at the meeting and witnessed the event.

“Tim Daly, in public comment, shared some harsh truths about sitting board member Tabitha Dell’Angelo. After his comments, he walked by her husband, Steve Sullivan (also campaign manager for the Democrats running in the 2023 school board election).

“There were words of some kind said, nothing too serious when Tim said something: ‘Read these, buddy.’ He threw the papers at Steve and Lela Casey, who was sitting next to him.”

Martino added, “Then he just lost it. You can see the video. He got crazed, picked up the chair, and lunged toward Tim, who walked down the aisle. The closest person to Steve was my 85-year-old dad, John Martino. Instead of backing away, John stood up immediately. Another larger and younger gentleman then escorted Steve back to his original seat.”

“There were no fists thrown,” said Martino. “I was there for the entirety, sitting next to my dad, who had the closest view of anyone.”

“They were swearing behind me while I was talking. That’s the reason I tossed (the papers) onto the chair,” said Daly. He noted the papers were flat, not rolled as reported in another publication.

“These hard-fought RTKs showed her unethical behavior,” said Daly. “I hit the nail on the head. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have responded the way he did. These people are very upset when the facts come out.” Daly said he did not swear at Sullivan, which had also been reported.

Police talked to both men afterward. Daly said he declined to file charges against Sullivan since he was not hurt.

Neither Sullivan nor Dell’Angelo responded to requests for comment. Democratic Party Chair Steve Santarsiero, also a state senator, did not respond to a request for comment. And the Democratic candidates for the school board did not answer DVJournal’s request for comment.

Dell’Angelo is not seeking reelection.

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