The school board is considering awarding a $75,000 legal contract to attorney Karen A. Murray, who is the wife of the district’s chief attorney Robert E. Murray.
School board members were presented the contract award on Tuesday night. Murray’s contract would run from Oct. 1, 2019 through Jun. 30, 2020, according to public records.
“The optics don’t look good, but she does good work for the district,” said school board member Emanuel Capers. She has previously served the district under her husband’s firm.
Capers asked about the ethics of awarding the contract on Tuesday night, he said. He has also inquired whether the arrangement conflicts with the district’s anti-nepotism policy.
“The district’s nepotism policy refers to district employees as they relate to the Superintendent and Board Commissioners. Neither Bob Murray nor Karen Murray are related to the Superintendent or any of the Board Commissioners,” said Paul Brubaker, spokesman for the Paterson Public Schools. “They are both consultants to the district’s legal department. Therefore, should the board opt to retain Karen Murray as a consultant, it would not constitute nepotism.”
School board president Oshin Castillo said she doesn’t see an actual conflict. She said the full board will have to decide whether to award the contract.
School board members will take a vote on the contract on Oct. 16.
Robert Murray received a $265,000 contract in May.