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

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lord Help Perth Amboy

Because NJ Education Commissioner Chris Cerf sure won't. Remember, Cerf's the one who dithers and delays on bringing the war between members of the board of education and Superintendent Janine Caffrey to a swift conclusion. Now, just as school is ready to start, everything starts to fall apart.
A former Perth Amboy school principal has filed a counterclaim after losing his job following accusations of allowing sales of alcoholic beverage in the school.
Alvaro Cores, who until July 1 was principal of Herbert Richardson Elementary School, states in a counterclaim filed last week he was the target of slander, involving claims of sexual harassment, misconduct and other acts.
The legal action is the latest in continuing controversies involving the school district and Superintendent Janine Caffrey, who the school board has twice tried to dismiss, only to be stopped by state education Commissioner Christopher Cerf.
In 2011, Caffrey, with board approval, hired Cores as principal. In July, the board voted not to reappoint him as principal for the upcoming school year.
In May, just five days after the board placed Caffrey on administrative leave to remove her, acting Superintendent Vivian Rodriguez suspended Cores and several other staff members over the alcohol allegations.
When Commissioner Cerf overturned Caffrey’s removal, she reinstated Cores, and the other staff members, which stood until the board voted to not reappoint him.
And that's not all:
While the school administrator complains that Board of Education (BOE) members waste money defending against her fight to keep a $172,000 job, Superintendent Janine Caffrey has squandered at least a million dollars by suspending more than a dozen teachers with pay and replacing them by substitutes. 
A recent Star-Ledger news article centered on Caffrey’s claims that the school board spent $70,000 on legal fees to sever her contract after they decided she is incompetent, insubordinate and ideologically opposed to the direction elected officials want to take the district. 
The public is getting a one-sided view of things, however, because school board members are not permitted to make public comments disparaging their employees, even if, like Caffrey, they advocate for policies that would mean the end of free public education as it exists now. Caffrey supports policies that encourage school privatization and corporate profiteering. 
In one case, Caffrey suspended a teacher on suspicion of abusive conduct but within a month, state officials at the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) and an independent psychiatrist cleared the educator. 
However, Caffrey refused to reinstate the teacher, who has been out for about a year collecting a salary over $80,000 while his classes have been covered by a $50,000 substitute. While vindicated of any wrongdoing and still collecting a paycheck, the teacher suspended by Caffrey remains out of the classroom and feels traumatized by this unfair treatment. 
At least 12 other professional educators have been removed by Caffrey and she openly supports an end to teacher tenure, the disciplinary process that prevents school employees from being subjected to political interference, intellectual intimidation and other injustices. Caffrey wants to eliminate the process for teachers to contest decisions to fire them but she is battling representatives elected by Perth Amboy voters because the same panel that hired her, wants to let her go after seeing her in action.
I'll say it again: I have no idea who is in the right here. From the outside looking in, it appears to me that the only adults in the room have been the teachers and their union.

But this should have been resolved long before the opening of the school year. It is fundamentally unfair to Caffrey, the board, the staff, and the students of Perth Amboy for Cerf to delay the resolution of this conflict.

Commissioner, force this arbitration to a closing - immediately.


habsanse said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
habsanse said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.