The School Ethics Commission dismissed the Complaint filed by Mt. Ephraim School Board Members, Deena Noonan, Nicholas Salamone, Jr., and Catherine Villardo against Joan Greenwood, who was Board President last year.
Noonan, Salamone, and Villardo filed an Ethics Complaint on August 24, 2015 alleging that Greenwood, as Board President, violated N.J.S.A. 18A:12-21, et seq., which is the School Ethics Act, and also specifically that Greenwood violated N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24.1(e), which is the Code of Ethics for School Board Members.
At issue was a statement that Greenwood made as president during the July 13, 2015 Board of Education concerning the renewal vote for the contract of school Superintendent, Leslie Koller, whose contract runs through June 30, 2016.
At its December meeting, the Commission voted to dismiss the Complaint in its entirety for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted. In its decision, the Commission determined that the Noonan, Salamone, and Villardo failed to meet their burden of alleging sufficient facts to state a claim under N.J.S.A. 18A:12-24.1(e).
Greenwood did nothing to compromise the Board or act beyond the scope of her authority.
Greenwood’s statement was benign, factual, and instructive.
Greenwood’s address to the public contained only the facts regarding the progress of the vote for Superintendent, and the status of the District, supported by publicly available NJASK scores of the district.
Additionally, the Commission did not find anything in Greenwood’s statement to support the allegation that she made a personal promise or took any private action that may have compromised the Board.
The decision rendered by the School Ethics Commission is a final decision of an administrative agency, appealable to the Superior Court, Appellate Division.
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Article has been updated to include new information.
During its Reorganization meeting on January 4, Bellmawr Council voted 3-2 in favor of appointing former councilman, Josh Tregear, as the new Borough Administrator.
Prior to council voting on the appointment, Borough Clerk, Chuck Sauter, read a letter from Tregear resigning from his councilman position effective December 31, 2015.
Tregear’s letter read in part: “The time has come for me to pursue other opportunities and to spend more time with my family.”
Voting yes in favor of the position were Councilmen Paul Sandrock, David Spector, and Steve Hagerty. Voting no were Councilmen Jim D’Angelo and Steve Sauter.
No one from the public spoke during the public portion and none of the Councilmen made comments about their votes.
However, Mayor Frank Filipek said: “This job has been needed for ten years. I’ve been pushing for it for ten years and we finally can afford it because we have people retiring so it’s not going to cost the taxpayers one cent. We’re not raising taxes because we’re hiring and opening another job.”
At the October 22, 2015 council meeting, the ordinance creating the Borough Administrator position was first read and introduced. At the November 23, 2015 council meeting, the ordinance was read a second time. There was a public hearing, and it was adopted on that date.
Bellmawr Borough advertised the position in the Legal Notices section of the November 25 edition of the Courier Post titled: “Job Opportunity, Position of Administrator, for the Borough of Bellmawr.”
Resumes were due by December 1 to Councilman Steven Hagerty, who is the Borough’s director of personnel.
Regarding the background for the position, four candidates interviewed for it, office secretary Victoria Sandrock confirmed via email in December: “Three interviewed on December 9. One interviewed on December 14.”
As for who did the interviewing, Sandrock wrote: “Kenneth Cheeseman, Administrator, Borough of Laurel Springs, John Greer, Administrator, Borough of Pine Hill, and Steven Hagerty, Councilman-Director of Personnel.”
As for the actual hiring of a candidate, Sandrock wrote that the names of possible candidates were discussed, “and no formal action will be taken until the Reorganization meeting on January 4, 2016.”
Additionally, a separate Resolution for the appointment will be on the agenda for the Reorganization meeting and Council will vote at that time, Sandrock wrote.
Tregear had spoken to Borough Solicitor Robert Messick concerning the proper legal steps he would have to take if Council selects him as the new Borough Administrator.
New material includes excerpts of the legal bills from Robert Messick, the Borough Solicitor, in response to reporter’s OPRA Request. Portions from Messick’s September-December 2015 bills as they relate to the creation of the Borough Administrator position are as follows:
September 10: Discuss proposed creation of Administrator’s position with Mayor as to other necessary changes it will produce.
October 6: Telephone call with Mayor regarding the Borough Administrator’s position and if J. Tregear is interested.
October 20: Telephone call with J. Tregear regarding mechanics of resigning as Council member; telephone call with Mayor regarding same.
October 21: Telephone call with J. Tregear regarding timing of resignation; telephone call with Clerk regarding his plan to have first reading on ordinance to create Borough Administrator position.
October 22: Telephone call with Clerk regarding J. Tregear resignation and timing on replacement and special election.
November 3: Discussion with J. Tregear regarding Borough Administrator duties.
November 18: Telephone call with J. Tregear regarding Borough Administrator position and steps he wants to take.
November 19: Two telephone calls with J. Tregear regarding Borough Administrator Ordinance and what his responsibilities and powers will be; brief meeting with Clerk regarding same issues; telephone call with S. Sauter regarding Borough Administrator and his opposition to same.
During its January 27th meeting, the Bellmawr Board of Education (BOE) heard a presentation from students in Ms. Krapf’s Academically Talented (AT) class at Bell Oaks.
School superintendent, Annette Castiglione, recognized the two staff members as January “Staff of the Month.” From Bellmawr Park School, Pam Aleti, was recognized.
From Ethel Burke School, paraprofessional, Maryann Reed, was recognized.
The BOE also voted to approve various items on its agenda. Approved Resolutions included:
An acceptance of grant awards for Fiscal Year 2016: NCLB Title I, Part A $309,765; NCLB Title II; Part A $36,528; and NCLB Title III $12,715.
The 2016-17 academic calendar.
A non-student pre-school tuition student for the 2015-16 year effective February 1, 2016 at the pro-rated amount of $1,500, based on the staff rate of $3,000 per student.
An acceptance of donation through Donors Choose (12 drawer carts, 12 plastic bins, 2 bean bags, 2 Leapfrog Leapster gaming devices, headphones, numerous games, gift cards to download apps, a swing frame, a platform swing, and a cuddle swing.)
A dance team program that will run after school for two-three days a week.
Summer Camp program that will run from July 5-August 12, 2016.
Permission for the Bell Oaks Boys Baseball team to enter into the BGSS Conference for the 2015-16 school year.
The BOE will meet next on Wednesday, February 24 at 5:00 p.m. for its workshop. The regular meeting will follow at 6:00 p.m. Meetings are held in the Bell Oaks Media Center.
School superintendent, Annette Castiglione, stated that despite delays, the Early Childhood Center will be ready for students on November 9.
Castiglione said at last week’s Board of Education (BOE) meeting that she recently did a walk-through of the center and the furniture is in and the custodians have been cleaning the rooms.
“The siding should be going up soon and the roof is on,” she said.
Castiglione and the district’s administrators gave a presentation on the district’s annual report. The report is available online on the Bellmawr Schools’ homepage
The superintendent also commented on the preliminary results of PARCC test. She said, “I received a 14-page PowerPoint on the PARCC Results, but we will not have the district results until late November.”
Once the district’s full results are received, they will be rolled out to the parents.
Speaking preliminarily about the results, Castiglione stated, “As we expected, the PARCC results certainly show that our performance is less than what was the case on the NJ-ASK. But for those of you who have been in education as long as I have, the NJ-ASK results the first year were significantly lower than what we call the GEPA (Grade Eight Proficiency Assessment).
She continued by saying, “Every time we change a standardized test, the results do shift dramatically and so we will expect that. We are expecting that statewide.”
She indicated that the results show statewide that Belllmawr’s students did not do as well in the PARCC as they did in the NJ-ASK.
“They did a little better in Language Arts than they did in Math, but in any case, they did what we expected them to do,” Castiglione said.
She further explained, “What this test is telling us is that we really have to keep ramping it up and going to the higher order thinking skills. That doesn’t mean teachers aren’t teaching and that the students aren’t learning. They are. There is no need for alarm. There is no need for opting out. There’s just a need to keep doing what we are doing.”
During the business portion of the meeting, all matters brought before the BOE were passed.
The BOE approved Anthony Sciarrillo as labor negotiator at the rate of $160.00 per hour because 2015-16 is the third and final year of the teachers’ contract.
The annual percentage increase for the teachers’ contract over the past three years is broken down as: 2.74% for 2013-14; 3.4% for 2014-15, and 3.97% for 2015-16.
The BOE voted to approve a $2,500 grant from GHA Technologies, Inc. to be used for technology equipment (Chrome Books) at Bellmawr Park School.
The BOE also voted to approve an agreement with Delta-T Group, Inc. for a learning disability teacher consultant (LDTC) not to exceed 10 hours weekly for the 2015-16 school year at a rate of $55.00 an hour.
The BOE will meet again on Wednesday, November 18 at 5:00 pm for its work session and the regular meeting will follow at 6:00 pm in the Bell Oaks Media Center.