I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Thursday, September 13, 2012

As Perth Amboy Turns

A state administrative law judge has upheld the Perth Amboy Board of Education's vote last May to place Superintendent of Schools Dr. Janine Walker Caffrey on paid administrative leave. 
Administrative Law Judge Ellen Bass ruled Tuesday that the board could place Caffrey on leave based on the May 7, 2012 vote in which board members invoked the doctrine of necessity which allowed all board members, including those with relatives working for the district and other conflicts, to vote.
The judge's decision goes to the state commissioner of education for adoption, modification or rejection.
Wait a minute: the citizens and students of Perth Amboy have been waiting for months for this decision.   But it can be vacated by Commissioner Chris Cerf at his discretion? Then why even give the case to a judge to begin with? Why couldn't Cerf just make his ruling and be done with it?

And why have we still not heard about the relationship between Cerf and Joel Rose, Cerf's former right-hand man and current president of a company that stands to make a lot of money from a contract introduced by Caffrey? Shouldn't we clear up whether there is a conflict of interest here before Cerf rules?

Caffrey charges that she is being persecuted by the board:
Caffrey said she is awaiting a ruling from the state School Ethics Commission on charges she filed against several school board members. That ruling is expected later this month.
"The majority of this board has engaged in incredibly unethical behavior," Caffrey said. She said she is continuing to do her job as superintendent.
School board president Samuel Labreault and vice president Kenneth Puccio did not return calls seeking a comment on the judge’s decision.
The reporting on this has been sketchy: what, exactly, is Caffrey alleging?

This soap opera has gone on way too long. Either Caffrey needs to go, or the board needs to be brought up on charges. It's unfair to the teachers, the students, the citizens of Perth Amboy - and even unfair to the board and to Caffrey - to string this along any further.

If Cerf can't end this, we need to bring in someone who can.

“It was one of the smoothest openings I’ve experienced. There were very few issues for the beginning of school,” said Superintendent of Schools Janine Walker Caffrey, who visited schools on Thursday’s opening day. “There is a lot of transition. A lot of changes. We appreciate the flexibility of everyone. It was a very smooth day.” 
She said hearing opening day referred to as “chaos” was disheartening.
But that is how opening day was described by Donna Chiera, president of Perth Amboy Federation/AFT, the union representing district teachers and other staff members.
“In some school buildings there was pure chaos, and staff came in and did what they had to do for the best interests of kids,” Chiera said.
One of the main issues involved scheduling, or in some cases an apparent lack of schedules for students.
Chiera and other union members said some high school students had schedules that didn’t match the academies where they were assigned. She also heard reports there were nearly 500 students at Shull Middle School who didn’t have schedules and had to stay in their homeroom all day. She said the schedules were never put into the district’s system.
Caffrey said this year the district wanted to create more individualized schedules, especially for middle school students. And the creation of those individualized schedules is more than district older-style computer system is able to apparently handle.
“The system can’t do all that we need it to do,” said Caffrey, adding that the district is looking to get a more updated system.
Chiera said some teachers didn’t get their assignments until two days before school started and others were assigned to teach classes they have never taught before, even though they are certified to teach those classes.

1 comment:

Deb said...

You were, I believe sadly prophetic when you coined him Lord Cerf. How did he create a world in NJ education that revolves entirely around him? He makes decisions - such the Perth Amboy situation or approving a charter school - and then gets to hear an appeal of that decision? And now he has the authority to overrule a judge? Who makes these rules? Oh, right, probably Cerf. Not to mention he sits on the GRC which hears complaints about OPRA violations- including those lodged against the DOE....Could you do one of those nifty charts for the World of Cerf? I think all arrows would point right back to him.

All this aside, you are absolutely right. Perth Amboy needs to settle this now.. For the kids.