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I don't think I've ever seen a war between a superintendent and a school board like this one. It's incredible.
So far, Caffrey has not been specific about how exactly she was pressured and for what positions. Personally, I see a difference between instructional and non-instructional jobs. If a school board says, "We want you to hire locally for bus drivers," I think that's fine (as long as the bus drivers are qualified). But if it's "I need you to hire my cousin," that's a problem.
And I do think there is a place for a little hometown pride: hiring back students who attended a school to teach there is a tradition that does have benefits. It shouldn't be overdone, and no one should teach who isn't qualified, but I think it has its limited place.
What we want to avoid is this:
In Garfield, the president of the Board of Education has seven relatives working for the schools, including the superintendent. Half of the district’s 30 administrators have a relative working for the district, with many having multiple family members on the payroll. In the school year that just ended, relatives of trustees and administrators earned a combined $2 million in salaries.
But when does Garfield’s established reputation for operating like a family business cross the line into unethical behavior that violates state statutes? This week, an administrative law judge will weigh in on this question with a case that revolves around allegations of nepotism, political patronage and school board members who pushed administrators to hire certain people.
And ironically, the case was triggered by a scathing ethics complaint filed by one of the school board president’s own relatives — the superintendent, Nicholas Perrapato, whose wife is a $100-per-day substitute teacher and whose cousin is the medical director at $65,500. Perrapato, who believes some nepotism is not a bad thing, says he was compelled to file his complaint when the behavior became so egregious it was hurting the education of the district’s children.I have yet to see Caffrey make such a charge against the PABOE. If it's true, she obviously has an obligation to file a complaint. We'll see if she does. But it seems to me that we're past the time to get specific; if Caffrey really believes that students are being affected, she has an obligation to spell out exactly how.
And I think both she and Tom Moran still need to tell us why tenure is so bad when an appeal to an outside party about her own firing is exactly what's kept her in her job - especially now, when she and her board are waging open war.
JANINE CAFFREY: ...so it's just a handful of board members who are trying to block educational progress.
MIKE SCHNIEDER, NJ TODAY: Why?
SCHNIEDER: They're not telling you, "We don't want kids to learn, we want the schools to fail," right?
CAFFREY: Well, they don't say that out loud, no.