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Lawsuit dropped against police officer elected to Elizabeth Forward board

| Saturday, April 12, 2014, 1:36 a.m.

Elizabeth Township commissioners dropped a lawsuit against police officer Jamie Evans, who was elected to the Elizabeth Forward school board in November.

The 4-3 vote took place on Thursday during a continuation of the April 7 commissioners meeting and allows Evans to continue serving in both roles without the threat of possible Civil Service violations. Board president Gene Francesconi, vice president Paul Saxon and commissioner Claire Bryce opposed the motion.

Before Evans could run for a seat on the school board, he first had to overcome a legal challenge to his candidacy by school board president Phil Martell, who maintained police officers are ineligible to hold office under the state's first-class township code. State Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, later successfully pushed an amendment through the General Assembly that allows police officers in first-class townships to serve as school board members of districts within second-class counties.

In December, township Solicitor Pat McGrail said council only wanted to avoid any potential conflicts of interest and the details of Saccone's amendment are so narrow it may violate the state constitution.

Elizabeth Forward Superintendent Bart Rocco spoke on behalf of Evans during Thursday's meeting, requesting the case be dropped.

Evans was not available for comment, but police Chief Robert McNeilly said he's glad to see the controversy come to an end.

β€œ(Dropping the lawsuit) will definitely save the township money,” McNeilly said. β€œAnd it's good to see we have a police officer who can continue to be an asset to the school board.”

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or tkaran@tribweb.com.

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