A longtime teacher, fired for not living in New Jersey, has filed a lawsuit against the Paterson Public Schools.
Barbara Blakeslee, an eighth grade teacher, filed the lawsuit earlier in the month. She alleges the school district terminated her employment before she could go through the process to obtain a waiver for the residency requirement.
New Jersey First Act requires most public employees to reside in the Garden State. Blakeslee had no knowledge of the law, according to the lawsuit.
Blakeslee had lived in New Jersey since birth. Her husband had to move to Pennsylvania to look after his ailing mother. She and her children later joined the husband and the ailing mother in Pennsylvania.
Blakeslee sought an exemption under the New Jersey First Act from the Employee Residency Review Committee. Her application was not placed in the July or August meeting agendas because of Covid-19.
She provided a copy of her exemption application to the Paterson school district in June. On June 22, the school district terminated her before she could get a hearing before the committee to potentially obtain an exemption to the residency requirement.
Blakeslee is asking the court to “restrain and enjoin the district from terminating her employment pending the decision of the committee.” She is also asking the court to order the district to reinstate her employment and continue to restrain the district until the committee renders a decision.
Blakeslee has taught in Paterson for 16 years. She was given the rating of “highly effective” in the last school year. She taught at School 8.
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