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Ethics Complaint Dismissed Against Mt. Ephraim School Board President

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.

In September, the Board of Education (BOE) hired special counsel to represent Greenwood at a cost not to exceed $10,000.

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).

In its decision, the Commission found, that:

  • 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.