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Atlantic City BOE member taking residency fight to the state

An Atlantic City school board whose residency has been questioned and vote banned is taking his case to the state.
Farook Hossain’s attorney filed complaints with the commissioner of education Friday, questioning how the Board of Education has handled the situation.
At January’s reorganization meeting, board solicitor Tracy Riley said she received information from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office that Hossain no longer lives in Atlantic City. She then told the board secretary not to record Hossain’s vote.
But despite her insistence that Hossain should be removed from the board, no petition was file with the commissioner of education to begin the process of removal in the nearly six weeks since.
Instead, Riley continued to bar Hossain’s vote, and tried to have him excluded from this week’s executive session.
The move instead caused other members to leave, ending the meeting due to a lack of quorum.
“There’s no due process for Mr. Hossain,” said attorney William Koy Sr., who filed four documents with the commissioner’s office Friday.
They include a complaint that “indicates our displeasure with what happened and asks the commissioner to immediately reinstate Mr. Hossain to his full board benefits.”
Koy, a retired superintendent and former school board solicitor, said he’s never seen a case where a solicitor tried to bar a sitting board member from voting.
“That’s unique at best,” Koy told BreakingAC.
“I think she’s put the cart before the horse,” he said of Riley. “Had she filed with the commissioner, that’s certainly the American way. Maybe I’m doing her job for her by filing.”
In an apparent attempt to rectify that, a special board meeting set for Tuesday includes an item that would authorize Riley to file a notice of motion for emergent relief for the removal of Hossain from the board.
It would be the first time Riley has offered that as an option to the board in the six weeks since she first barred Hossain’s vote from being recorded.
The agenda also includes a vote that would allow Riley to file civil litigation against Hossain and his wife, Mossammat Akther.
It is unclear what would be named as the reason for such a lawsuit.
Riley has not returned numerous requests seeking comment in the case. Board President Shay Steele said he could not comment.
Koy stressed that he does not represent Akther, and could not comment on her case at all.
His filing with the commissioner of education includes at least six exhibits and a legal brief.
The paperwork has also be sent to Riley.
Koy said he is hopeful that once the board sees the evidence, they will just reinstate Hossain.
“Legal issues cost money,” he noted.
Riley has given no details about why Hossain’s residency has been questioned. Records show that his wife does own a property on East Kennedy Drive in Egg Harbor Township. But that listing still has Akther’s residence as North Raleigh Avenue in the city, the same as her husband.
Hossain provided certification of his residency with the filing to the state, Koy said.
If the case goes to the state, Koy said he will ask for Hossain’s vote to be retroactively reinstated, which could further deepen the divide among the board.
Without Hossain’s vote, the board leadership changed. Steele replaced John Devlin as president, with Pat Bailey taking over Hossain’s former position as vice president.
It could also impact the search for superintendent.
An item on the special meeting’s agenda looks to discontinue the search for retiring Superintendent Barry Caldwell’s replacement.
Riley indicated at the last board meeting that the vote was because the process would have to restart since Hossain was part of the hiring committee.
That vote was supposed to happen after the executive session at this week’s meeting that ended after too many board members left.
Koy said he expects to talk to Riley on Monday, after she has had a chance to review his filings.

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