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Atlantic City board meeting was politically motivated, Smalls claim

A special Atlantic City School Board meeting held to look into an accused child pornographer’s tenure teaching in the district was actually a politically inspired conspiracy to defame the mayor and his principal wife, according to a tort claim filed last month.
A tort claim gives notice to a public entity of an intent to sue.
The Oct. 13 special meeting was called to look into how 2017 claims against Kayan Frazier never made it to the Board of Education. But LaQuetta and Marty Small claim it was really meant to defame the Smalls, and harm the mayor’s re-election bid.
Frazier was arrested in April 2019 on charges that he photographed the sexual abuse of local children, and shared those images. Two years earlier, he lost his job as a substitute teacher after allegations that he violated school policy by having a student sleep overnight in his bed, and that he texted another student.
The 2017 violations were reported by Frazier’s cousin, Dr. LaQuetta Small, who was principal of Pennsylvania Avenue School at the time.
At the special meeting held in October, then-board President John Devlin asked for an investigation into the handling of those claims and why the board was never notified when questions about Frazier’s conduct first arose.
At that time, several people who gathered at the meeting alleged the real reason was a political ploy to harm Small’s husband, Mayor Marty Small, in his most recent run for election.
Now, the Smalls’ attorney has notified the board of a potential lawsuit claiming the “retaliatory conduct of certain (board) members.”
Devlin is the only named member, with the allegation that there is evidence he and unnamed others conspired with former Small ally and current political foe Craig Callaway “to defame the good names and reputations of my clients immediately preceding the November 2020 special election,” wrote attorney Ed Jacobs, who did not return requests seeking comment.
“My clients have suffered injuries and damages to their good name and reputation, standing in the community, personal humiliation, mental anguish and business economic losses as a result of these defamatory schemes,” Jacobs continued.
Devlin declined to comment.
The claim also notes that a week after the meeting, Callaway appeared on two live broadcasts “and defamed the Smalls.”
While Callaway says he did appear on the radio broadcasts and discussed the Frazier issue, he denies talking to any board members about the issue.
The tort claim was sent to Superintendent Barry Caldwell and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
An outside law firm is currently investigating the 2017, following a board vote.
Board solicitor Tracy Riley disagreed with the move and, despite an order to cease and desist from her own investigation, filed a report based on her incomplete probe into the issue.

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