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Roslyn school board members can be sued

New York’s highest court Tuesday reinstated on technical legal grounds a lawsuit centering on an embezzlement case against the Roslyn Union Free School District, but cast doubt on the thrust of the claim: whether school board members could be held responsible for the more than $11 million theft.

The unusual case stems from the school district suing school board members for allegedly lax management during the period between 1998 and 2004 when three school officials pocketed millions of school district funds. All three were convicted of grand larceny.

One board member, Carol Margaritis, countered that the lawsuit should be dismissed on statute of limitations grounds. Lower courts had agreed with Margaritis.

But the Court of Appeals in Albany on Tuesday overturned those decisions in a 7-0 ruling, saying that the lawsuit, commenced in 2005, was filed one year before the legal clock ran out. That means the case must go back to a county-level court for trial.

But the appeals court expressed reservations about the merits of the case. The judges wrote that since the state comptroller’s office had traced the stolen funds to the convicted school officials, “there appears to be no need for an accounting against” Margaritis and recommended that “this cause of action should be dismissed.”

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