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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Perth Amboy Update

Because we just can't get enough news from the soap opera that is Perth Amboy's schools:
A number of ethics complaints filed against city Board of Education members appear headed to hearings before a state administrative law judge following decisions announced Tuesday by the state School Ethics Commission.
Some of the ethics complaints brought by Superintendent of Schools Janine Walker Caffrey against Board President Samuel Lebreault, Vice President Kenneth Puccio and board members Israel Varela, Milady Tejeda and Obdulia Gonzalez are slated to go before the judge. Some of the other charges against some board members were dismissed.
Caffrey, who on Saturday was placed on paid administrative leave by the school board, said the commission agreed with her that Lebreault, Varela and Puccio interfered with the day-to-day activities of the district, hiring and used their positions for personal gain for themselves and others. She said the ethics charges against Tejeda and Gonzalez will move forward with an administrative law judge hearing.
So Caffrey is the reporter's source for this story? Hmm...
According to the commission, the charges involving Lebreault relate to attempts to hire a bus driver who had confronted the superintendent, and his request that Caffrey provide him with employment information that he could give to the community before the job was posted.
I really don't understand that paragraph; "confronted"? And what happened to the school lunch form charges?
The commission found probable cause that Puccio had violated school ethics law by expressing how he was appalled that two principals had reported his presence in the school as ambiguous because of his dual roles as a school board member and juvenile detective.
Puccio said he had not heard from his attorney about the ethics commission’s decision.
Varela was found to have violated school ethics law by attempting to block the hiring of a recommended bus driver in favor of another bus driver, for repeatedly entering a district school without signing in, and without approval in compliance with school safety procedures. 
Yeah, that's not cool. Every adult in a school needs to sign in - including teachers. But was he being barred from visiting the schools? Why?
Varela said Caffrey instituted a policy of board members not being allowed to enter school buildings without her permission.
But he has had a long-standing practice of taking his wife to lunch each day or bringing her lunch. His wife is a teacher at the Dr. Herbert N. Richardson 21st Century School. Because Varela works near the school, his wife sometimes would request that he pick up a special treat for her students.
“No other superintendent or principal had a problem. It was never addressed,” he said. “Over 20 years I’ve had lunch with my wife. Other husbands have lunch with their wives.”
Varela said any staff members he encounters during those visits usually just discuss updates of their families, people Varela has known for years. They don’t discuss school issues or the superintendent.
“That does not worry me at all, (having the ethics complaints) go to a hearing,” said Varela, who also faces a hearing for allegedly approaching a secretary at the Richardson School to advance a smear campaign against former Richardson Principal Al Cores, whose contract was not renewed by the school board following allegations of an alcoholic holiday drink being sold at the elementary school.
Oy, what a mess. But at the end of the day, this is the board that hired Caffrey. Reap what you sow and all that.

ADDING: The Star-Ledger puts this headline out on the story:

Commission says 5 Perth Amboy board members violated ethics act in dealing with superintendent

But the story says:
A state commission Tuesday found probable cause that five city school board members violated the state School Ethics Act in dealing with the school superintendent and in dismissing a school principal.
The state School Ethics Commission said the claims filed by the now-suspended Superintendent Janine Caffrey and former principal Alvaro Cores will be referred to an administrative law judge. 
So the commission didn't say the board violated the ethics act; they said there was probable cause for a hearing. Probably should change that headline, guys.

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