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Holmdel School Board President Says 'Bullying' Allegations Are False

In a statement issued today, Board President Barbara Garrity responds to comments made at Wednesday's Board of Education meeting by two of its members.


Recently, two members of the Holmdel School Board, Ana Vander Woude and Dennis Pavlik, issued public statements claiming that they had been “bullied” when they raised a “serious” issue involving school personnel in October. They claimed the school board, school attorney, and school administration attempted to silence them with threats of potential legal action and ethics violation charges.

These claims are completely false. No one is deliberately hiding anything.   They were never “silenced.” They know there are rules involving personnel matters that require confidentiality. They also know the board responded rapidly to the issue they raised, and it has been thoroughly investigated to the satisfaction of the majority of the board’s members. I am particularly disappointed that they chose to question the integrity of the entire board by exaggerating the scale of this incident and making insinuations relating to the recent controversies involving Penn State and Brookdale.

Ms. Vander Woude and Mr. Pavlik also know that all school board members must follow specific rules set by the state that dictate their conduct when working with school administrators. They were, in fact, not mindful of proper procedures and protocol, which exposed them to legal liabilities and ethics charges. And they chose to ignore advice from our legal counsel that the approach they chose to take could lead to potential exposure. 

Their claims that they were bullied and intimidated are, in my opinion, a smokescreen designed to avoid the consequences of their actions. The entire story has yet to be told, and I would ask the community for patience involving a sensitive personnel matter before more details can be shared publicly.

john boyd November 30, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Tony Well said
Patty November 30, 2012 at 12:17 AM
I don't know the by laws, but if this is something pertaining to our children or to an individual who works with and is around our children we have the right to know what is going on. I am extremely concerned because board members who are representatives for the children and parents are obviously being made to feel that they cannot address a situation and this is exactly what they are on the board for. I know how big the binder is for the "Bullying" guidelines and I would like to know that it is being followed the same in every circumstance. I applaude Mr Pavlik & Ms Vander Woude for standing up for what they believe in and obviously representing their positions in protecting the parents and our children.
George F November 30, 2012 at 12:17 AM
I would tend to agree with Tony. It appears to me that Garrity is trying to hide behind proper "procedures" to distract from the real issue.
Vinny November 30, 2012 at 12:43 AM
I believe that Ms. Garrity should explain to the parents and taxpayers of this town what the entire story is and they can decide for themselves who is correct in this situation. The only smokescreen I am seeing is her refusal to explain the source of this entire controversy.
common sense November 30, 2012 at 02:26 AM
As a former member of several boards in the past, I have learned that there is a fine line a member must walk when doing the town's work and ones personal agenda. When you are a member of the Board of Education and have children in the system, that line can become blurred. The original article specifically stated that these board members were at the central office on "personal" business, which means they were there as parents of children in the system and not Board members. They must learn to understand that the fine line tends to disappear when you are discussing your child. I had three of my children graduate from the Holmdel system and have been a resident for almost thirty years. There were a few occassions that I disagreed with a teacher or the system, but I was not a member of the Board. It's almost impossible to be impartial when the dispute is about your own child. If the school board attorney and the six other members of the Board told Mr. Pavlik and Ms. Vande Woude that they were behaving in a "vicious, self-serving manner designed to shame and humiliate", they must have had a very good reason to say so. The Board must not only protect the children but the other residents of the town from a possible massive lawsuit. Right now, without the facts, as Mr Searle said earlier, we must not judge. The Board is not hiding behind a smoke screen or press releases, they are merely following legal procedures for everyone's protection. This Board does not Bully.
Jess November 30, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Hopefully this ugly situation that we find ourselves in right now will ultimately have a silver lining....the hierarchy in this Administration and BOE needs to go - starting first and foremost with Duncan. Garrity is Duncan's puppet, and Currie is the mastermind that rubber-stamped the Columbia Readers and Writers Workshop Programs. They all must go. We finally need to clean house and start over with real LEADERS that are honest, ethical, and truly care about the children in the school district.
Holmdel Repub November 30, 2012 at 12:36 PM
I think we should all stand down until we hear more. If it was a "personnel" matter does it make sense for 2 board members to break away and address it without the rest? It doesn't, and we shouldn't be backing Mr. P and Ms. V, or chastising Mrs. G without understanding the entire situation.
Jeanne Abinader Wall November 30, 2012 at 02:55 PM
We the taxpayers are paying the salaries of these public employees... Holmdel taxpayers deserve to hear what is obviously being covered up. There needs to be an immediate investigation.
RJS November 30, 2012 at 04:18 PM
I have attended some BOE meetings before and witnessed Mr. P and Mrs. V disagree with the rest of the board before.Based on what I have seen and heard before I would say Mr. P and Mrs. V are self serving and do not have all of our childrens best intrests at heart.
Fact Check November 30, 2012 at 05:09 PM
The State of New Jersey has a team that will typically investigate this type of thing. Leadership can get stale and circle wagons but the state criminal and civil investigators typically cut through it with depositions and supeona powers. This must be chapter one in a book being written day by day. I applaud the expose as too often leaders and professionals get too lazy too comfortable and too smug for their own good It happens...sunshine is the best disinfectant.
Molly Ringwald November 30, 2012 at 11:27 PM
To Common Sense ??? What do you know about any members of this board? Do you live with them? Work with any of them? As a former member of the board, were you on it when they hired Duncan? Bryon? or how about Flaherty? Our district has been dragged down enough due to the majority of board members' lack of knowledge when it comes to hiring professionals with high standards.
Jennifer December 01, 2012 at 02:19 AM
How do you know?
Jennifer December 01, 2012 at 02:28 AM
I reported a teacher at Satz for inappropriate behavior 3 times, escalating from principal, to guidance, to written notice to Ms. Duncan. I was assured that such matters are taken very seriously, ( by Duncan - the other two offered various justifications and indicated they didn't take it seriously at all). I was told that they couldn't tell me anything because they can't discuss personel matters, but that the matter had been " addressed", and I was welcome to request that any future children of mine not be placed in this class. No one involved was ever interviewed. So, if this is a similar situation, I am very alarmed. Lawsuits go both ways, you know.
"Big Mike" December 01, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Now Now Now Jess, I agree with you on the puppet thing, but for all of M to go? All of M is not the problem. I can't mention any names because I don't want to be to put in "Time Out" again, but who you mention in your comment are the ones who need to go. Plus, a few more I can't mention??? Again like I said once before, you'd be surprised in the number of Board Members who are really looking out for our children!
"Big Mike" December 01, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Jennifer, I feel for you with your situation since I have young children myself, but i'm pretty sure it was addressed by the 2 magicians who conducted the so called investigation. ?? Just like any other issue "It Disappeared" That's why they need to go!!!
"Big Mike" December 01, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Molly, My 1st official club member. I read this common sense post and it actually aggravated me! After reading his comments, I have come to the conclusion that he is just another wanna be intellectual "Ding Dong" that knows everything about everything. I would rather read a comment posted by a bag of hammers! He sounds like he's a relative of one of the Sesame Street Gang. As your club founder, we need to keep the faith and get "Big Mike's" message out so we can make a difference and make sure our children are always # 1 because that's what it's all about. T shirts are on order !
"Big Mike" December 01, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Well did you think for a minute Einstein that maybe they both have a mind of their own? That when certain issues come up and are voted on, they're not influenced by anyone else on the Board on how to vote. That when something is wrong, it's wrong and that's the way they choose to vote. I've been to several meetings over the last year and I don't get the "Self Serving" comment. C'mon, what are we at the China Buffet? They are "Serving" with Honor, Dignity and Respect for us Parents and more important our children! You'd be surprised who are really lookin out for our kid's buddy. You should team up with that other so called "Intellectual " know it all common sense so you can post your idiotic comments to each other. Oh, and by the way. it's spelled Interests, not Intrests OK you're welcome! I did personal spell check for you. No charge!
page December 01, 2012 at 10:30 PM
dear jennifer, the term--- the issue has been investigated and addressed-- seems to be the standard line for issues of concern being brought to light by both parents and board members in Holmdel--
Michael December 03, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Maybe Mrs. Garrity isn't the right person to be sitting in that chair. I am hoping that the Board reveals more information on this matter.
frank russ December 03, 2012 at 08:33 AM
Well to give everyone a sense of what is going on. My wife gave some information to one of the board members in early Sept about an upper management working two jobs in two different districts. I also spoke to one of the candidates running for board of education as well and he did some research and found additional evidence regarding this potential issue. I would love to tell everyone who the person is that has probably violated school work policy but obviously it has been kept from all us at this point, and if she or he violated any rules. But the evidence in my opinion is overwhelming considering how important this job is. And for the two board members to make statement it’s obvious they got some big time backlash for bringing it up. Understand for this person to work two jobs could have only been allowed by the Super or this person never told the Super and like usual Ms. Duncan wasn't paying any attention to her employees. But regardless the Super is not doing her job effectively, especially if you look at the recent issues plus the past ones. So it seems painfully obvious that the President and Vice President of the BOE are defending their friend and allowing our school district to go down. And sadly many of you voted back in Wetmore!!!
SG December 03, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Well this was easy to figure out!! Just Google names of all high salary jobs in our district. Thanks for the clue Frank!
D. Hamwi December 04, 2012 at 02:59 AM
THANK YOU Ana & Dennis for being our HONEST eyes & ears. You are both so greatly appreciated by many Holmdel residents. Stick with your beliefs & keep up the great work :).
frank russ December 04, 2012 at 05:17 AM
I am sorry for the late response for those that were not threatening my life LOL. I was suck at work and dealing with the fun issues of the day and day until my wife told me that Mr. Lee had come out and said he would kill me haha. Although I am sure he won’t be the last!!! The story is this I won't release the name of the person who has been working for almost two years for another district simply because they may have been allowed by their boss. The issue here is this person makes a good living taking care of our children. If they wanted to work somewhere else then we need to assume that A. Her boss permitted it or B. They lied about it working elsewhere. There is no way a person making a 100k plus should be allowed to consultant without the districts approval.
frank russ December 04, 2012 at 05:26 AM
Cont:::: But the real kick in the pants is this person is working for a former employee of the district and BOE minutes for the other district shows them as a director. So looking at it from a neutral point of view it looks real suspicious. The point is that every corporation has policies in place to restrict or demand proper notice of secondary employment. Teachers are different because they do not make as much and are not expected to work beyond the require hours of their union contract but a director works a certain time whether it is 8 to 4 or 9 to 5. Making it almost impossible to work two similar jobs. Imagine working your 8 to 4 or 9 to 5 and balancing a similar job after hours. People wake up this is happening everywhere and no one cares because it is pushed aside. We all are equal in paying into the system if someone is not putting all of their time into our kids then what are doing here. At the end of the day it’s vital to look at the bigger picture.
Debbie Brew December 04, 2012 at 05:59 AM
Yep! Got it!....we shouldn't have to do our own investigations....its right under our noses here! Unacceptable....thank goodness for Ana and Dennis....UNACCEPTABLE!
marty January 05, 2013 at 06:40 AM
as a former employee of for years there is a lot of miss dealings in this dist. like not working there hours, taking days off and not reporting it . working side jobs while in school on school time. they hide work place bullying. they hide the mold issues that effect workers and students---by getting rid people if they bring it up. parents of holmdel you need to clean house for your child
Chris Jones March 14, 2014 at 03:08 PM
This issue has now resurfaced 14 months later to the tune of Sockol and Garrity voting to add a $100k assistant position for Meryl Gill who is the teacher working in two different schools districts. Holmdel taxpayers are getting hosed by these clowns. Here is the story from Wednesday March 12 Board meeting, speak up people! http://holmdel-hazlet.patch.com/groups/vincenzos-blog/p/intrigue-at-holmdel-boe-meeting-31214#comment-41347345
common sense March 14, 2014 at 03:24 PM
Sockol and Garrity are two of the best board members that this town has. They at least don't have 'private' agendas like some of the other board members. I've lived in this town for over 30 years and had my three children all graduate from HHS , followed by distinguished college careers and graduate degrees. During those 30 years, this district always had a assistant director of special services. About three or four tears ago, the director unfortunately passed away and Ms Gill, then the assistant director, became director although an assistant was never replaced. Over the past 5 years, the number of special education students in this district has exploded once word was spread that we have such an excellent program. Thanks to Ms Gill and her staff, this district has thankfully been educating our special needs children with great compassion and educational expertise. I'm sure this job is quite overwhelming for any one person and the need for an assistant director is valid.
Jennifer March 17, 2014 at 09:54 PM
Sorry, but no. Not when she has the time to hold another director position in another school district. Half the kids in town have parents at AT&T or one of it's spin-offs, and we all understand that over the past decade staff positions have been reduced in the real world, outside the little bubble of school administration, and people are now doing 2 jobs for one salary, not the reverse. If your workload is too much, try working one job instead.
Jennifer March 18, 2014 at 09:56 AM
Maybe the Beverly School will hire an assistant Director of Special Services and that person could do double duty here for free. Is that how it works? Still trying to figure out how Ms. Gill does it. There literally aren't enough hours in the day. And I'd like to see numbers on our "exploding" special ed population. I haven't seen "explosive" numbers of people moving into town over the past 5 years, never mind large numbers with special needs.

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