Sussex County Freeholders file OPRA request in 'the Scanlan matter'

NEWTON. The Sussex County Freeholders filed an OPRA request to obtain all Sussex County Community College Board of Trustees communications in the board’s investigation of former Vice Chair Jerry Scanlan.

Newton /
07 Sep 2019 | 12:34

By Nicole M. Wells

It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.

Wading into “the Scanlan matter,” the Sussex County Freeholders filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request to obtain all Sussex County Community College Board of Trustees communications in the board’s investigation of former Vice Chair Jerry Scanlan.

When reached by phone, SCCC board Chair William Curcio said that the board’s attorney was in the process of reviewing the freeholders’ OPRA request.

“We will comply,” Curcio said. “I think we’re due to comply next Monday or Tuesday.”

According to the state OPRA law, the board has seven business days to respond to the freeholders’ request, and can either provide the information requested or deny the request and give the reason why the information cannot be provided.

If the freeholders’ request is denied, they can either file an appeal with the state Public Records Council or file a motion in state Superior Court for a resolution of the dispute.

Scanlan came under fire by members of the public during the July 23 board meeting for a series of disparaging tweets referencing U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. The four freshman Democratic congresswomen of color have recently been subject to criticism by President Donald Trump.

In addition to his previous role as vice chair of the board, Scanlan is also the chairman of the Sussex County Republican Committee and the tweets were shared via the county party’s official Twitter account.

At a special meeting of the SCCC board Aug. 20, the body voted 7-2 to censure Scanlan and to remove him from his position as board vice chair, effective immediately.

The board also wrote a letter to the freeholders, to advise them to remove Scanlan from the board completely.

Because the freeholders appointed Scanlan to his seat, they are the only ones who can remove him from the board.

Scanlan, whose term expires in October, has previously taken responsibility for the tweets and apologized to the board and the community in a statement provided by his attorney.

Curcio said he did not know if the freeholders would be discussing the board’s handling of the Scanlan investigation at their next meeting.

The freeholders are scheduled to meet next on Wednesday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m. in the meeting room of the Sussex County Administrative Center. The center is located at 1 Spring Street in Newton.