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

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Queen of Tenure Ends Her Reign?

And so the long, strange tale of Janine Caffrey, Superintendent of Perth Amboy's schools and the Queen of Tenure, begins its slow, sad ending:  
After two years of nearly non-stop battles with The Perth Amboy Board of Education, Superintendent Janine Caffrey has decided she will not reapply for her position and will finish out her contract which expires June 30.
The decision came after an Aug. 29 Board of Education meeting where President Mark Carvajal announced that the Board would start a search process for the superintendent position and that Caffrey could reapply for her job if she chose.
"It is clear that a majority of BOE members are not supportive of offering me a new contract," Caffrey said in an open letter to Perth Amboy sent to NJ.com.
"The people of Perth Amboy elected these officials to make this decision, and I respect their decision." [emphasis mine]
So after all the controversies surrounding Caffrey, what finally brought this on? Well, earlier this month, a school secretary was found guilty of selling alcohol on school property -- and Caffrey's conduct during the incident was reportedly questioned by some members of the board:
A Perth Amboy school secretary, on paid administrative leave for the past year, has been found guilty of possessing and selling alcoholic beverages on school property without the written permission of the Perth Amboy Board of Education. 
Hector Muniz, a school secretary at the Dr. Herbert N. Richardson 21st Century Elementary School, was found guilty Wednesday by Old Bridge Municipal Court Judge James Weber, according to a court clerk employee. 
Muniz, who testified in his own defense, was ordered to pay $664 in fines and fees, according to the court clerk’s office. 
A message seeking comment left for Muniz’ attorney, Anthony Fazioli of Carteret, was not returned. 
Superintendent of Schools Janine Walker Caffrey said key for her was the finding of fact that no one in the administration gave permission or had knowledge of what Muniz was doing. 
In June 2012 Muniz, who had worked as a school secretary for about two years, was issued a summons for bringing, possessing and selling alcoholic beverages on school property without the written permission of the school board. 
He was accused of selling coquito, a Latino-style eggnog containing rum to staff members during the 2011 holiday season. The summons indicated the offense occurred on or about Dec. 1, 2011. 
Muniz was placed on administrative leave by Caffrey in June 2012 after receiving the summons. It was the second time that year Muniz had been placed on leave for selling the alcoholic drink, an act some school board members said had not been handled sufficiently by Caffrey when it initially occurred. 
After board members placed Caffrey on paid administrative leave in April 2012, citing a list of alleged wrongdoings, then-acting Schools Superintendent Vivian Rodriguez placed Muniz and four other Richardson School employees on paid administrative leave. Rodriguez also filed a police report about allegations of alcohol being brought to the elementary school. 
Muniz allegedly told Police Chief Benjamin Ruiz he had alcohol in the trunk of his vehicle parked in the school lot, but not inside the school building at 318 Stockton St. The police summons was issued based on that statement, Ruiz has said. 
When Caffrey returned to work in early May 2012 after the state education commissioner issued a ruling in her favor she reinstated the five Richardson School employees, including Muniz. She said an investigation into the alleged sale of alcohol at the school had been concluded and nothing was found. [emphasis mine]
And that, I think we can assume, was the last straw for at least some of the board's members.

But who knows? This story has had so many twists and turns it's hard to believe this is the end...

Perth Amboy, is this tale finally over?

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