Porzio has more than 50 years of experience counseling and representing management on employment and labor matters. Our unique combination of skills has drawn diverse organizations to our firm, from Fortune 500 companies to small and mid-sized businesses in the life sciences, manufacturing, transportation, education, and retail industries, as well as public sector clients such as Boards of Education and police departments.
Vito Gagliardi represents school districts in numerous matters and handles an extraordinary variety of employment law matters for the firm’s public and private sector clients in state and federal courts, before state and federal agencies, and before arbitrators. He litigates and counsels clients in every area of labor and employment law, including issues of restrictive covenants, harassment, discrimination and whistleblowing.
Mr. Gagliardi is certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey's Board on Trial Certification as a Civil Trial Attorney. A Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated lawyer, he has also been listed by New Jersey Super Lawyers in the area of employment law since the list’s inception in 2005.
Kerri Wright has extensive litigation and counseling experience in numerous areas of employment law. She has successfully defended management in class-action wage and hour lawsuits and has handled numerous investigations by management into allegations of employee wrongdoing. Ms. Wright also has significant experience representing and counseling school boards, charter schools, private schools and colleges in a variety of areas. She is one of only a few experts in the State in the area of reconfiguring school districts, including the creation and dissolution of regional school districts and the creation and termination of sending-receiving relationships.
Ms. Wright serves as general legal counsel to the Hopatcong Board of Education. Also an elected member of the Chester Board of Education in Morris County, Kerri is serving in her fourth term. She served several years as the President of the Board, and currently serves as the Chair of the Board’s negotiation committee. She has successfully negotiated employment contracts and collective bargaining agreements with each one of the Board’s labor groups.
Porzio appreciates Vito's and Kerri's individual contributions to the firm and looks forward to the continued development of the team through their joint leadership.
Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C. (Porzio) case findings were detailed in the article "Allentown taxpayers will get no relief from school tax hike," by Mark Rosman, published in the Examiner (Monmouth County, NJ) on August 2, 2016.
Allentown, New Jersey property owners face a school tax increase of approximately $530 on the average assessed home for the 2016-2017 school year because outgoing town officials did not pay close attention to notices that were sent out by the Division of Taxation this past October. In early July 2016, Porzio was retained by Allentown Borough Council to determine the cause of an anticipated tax increase and to determine if there were any legal remedies available to reverse it. During the July 26, 2016 Borough Council meeting, Porzio attorneys Vito A. Gagliardi, Jr., Jeffrey M. Pypcznski and Kerri A. Wright reported on their findings.
In October 2015 the town received a notice for the Division of Taxation that the town's total equalized property valuation would be going up by more than 10%. The cause of this increase was the inclusion in the State's calculation of the sale of just three properties in town. Porzio attorneys explained that due to the prior administration's failure to appeal the tax hike within the 45-day period following the October notification, any legal action taken now would be costly and would likely not provide a favorable result. To avoid future issues, Porzio recommended procedures to ensure timely annual receipt, analysis, and, if necessary, appeal of the equalized property valuation table.
This is a lesson for every constituent member of a regional school district. Every October, every constituent must pay careful attention to that table of equalized valuation and any notices from the Division of Taxation.
Kerri A. Wright has been selected to serve as general legal counsel to the Hopatcong Board of Education for 2016.
"The firm is very excited and happy to be representing Hopatcong, and we're looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship between the two. We're looking forward to helping Hopatcong in its goal to increase the educational opportunities for the children in Hopatcong," stated Ms. Wright.
Ms. Wright is a principal of the firm and a member of the firm’s Litigation Practice Group, focusing her practice in the areas of education law and employment law. She is also a current elected member of the Chester Board of Education and has also held president and vice president positions on this board.
Porzio has been selected by the Borough of Sea Bright to challenge the Shore Regional High School Board of Education’s decision to deny a request for a referendum to modify the school funding formula. Principals Vito A. Gagliardi, Jr. and Kerri A. Wright will lead the matter.
The Shore Regional High School District is comprised of the communities of Sea Bright, Oceanport, Monmouth Beach and West Long Branch. Sea Bright has been fighting for over a decade the inequitable distribution of the school tax levy. Under a decades-old law, Sea Bright currently pays 20.8% of the total levy although its students represent only 3.5% of the total student population, in an arrangement that Gagliardi has called "hideously unfair." Carrying relatively higher property values, Sea Bright has been "forced to subsidize the communities with relatively lower property values.”
Sea Bright currently sends 23 students to attend school in Shore Regional, and was the only one of the four towns which received a tax rate increase in the 2014-2015 budget year.
The Department of Education has upheld a 2014 ruling enabling the Merchantville School District to end its sending agreement with Pennsauken High School. Merchantville's current eighth-grade class will be the first to attend Haddon Heights High School, starting September 2015.
The Merchantville school board was represented by Porzio attorneys Vito A. Gagliardi, Jr. and Kerri A. Wright. "This case is a historical landmark decision in the State of New Jersey for sure, and certainly for the community of Merchantville," stated Gagliardi. "This decision makes it clear the Department of Education recognizes communities should be allowed to make a choice just like parents can."
Recent discussions offer evidence that the Mountainside High School may be exploring other high schools to send its students to instead of Governor Livingston in the Berkeley Heights district. However, such a move is not one that can be implemented easily.
Porzio principal Vito A. Gagliardi explains a send-receive relationship termination: “The law says that you cannot end a send-receive relationship without filing a contested case before the state commissioner of education, in which you prove that there would be no substantial negative educational, racial or financial impact on any of the communities involved... Whoever wants to end the relationship must file the lawsuit.”
For the full TapInto.net article, "Berkeley Heights Schools Attorney Explains Ins and Outs of Send-Receive Relationships," by Frank Mustac, please click here.
Since 1960, the Lower Cape May Regional District has been comprised of Lower Township, Cape May and West Cape May. Cape May wants to leave the district and claims that it pays too much to operate the district under a state funding formula based on property value. The formula for Cape May has taxpayers contributing approximately one-third of the tax levy but only sending 67 students to the 7-12 district.
Board of Review, a state panel set up to rule on educational issues, agreed to allow a referendum to let voters decide if Cape May is permitted to leave the district. Lower Township, West Cape May and the Board of Education for the district did not oppose a public vote. All three towns will vote at a special election.