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Ethics Violations Charge Lodged Against Three Holmdel School Board Members

The members received word last week and have retained private attorneys to defend themselves.

Three Holmdel Board of Education members have been accused of violating a code of ethics by another board member or members, the public learned Wednesday night at the school board meeting at Satz School. 

The three board members, Ana Vander Woude, Dennis Pavlik and Phyllis Pascucci, said at Thursday night's meeting that they stand accused after raising a concern on Oct. 27 related to a school district employee's second job.

The concern was discussed in a private session with the the school's central office. But the three board members said they felt "intimidated" and "bullied" by certain board members as a consequence of bringing up the matter. 

They, and other members of the board, have declined to be more specific about the concern citing confidentiality over personnel issues. 

But the personnel matter was investigated, and most members of the board said they were said Board President Barbara Garrity. 

Board attorney Martin Barger explained that the charges will be reviewed by the state Dept. of Education, and if they find it can be litigated, the case moves to the Office of Administrative Law where it will be heard before a judge and made public.

Although the attorney did not specify the name of the person or persons who filed the complaint, Board Member Dennis Pavlik said publicly it was Garrity. She did not confirm or deny it at the meeting last night. 

Andrew December 21, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Unfortunately I was unable to attend the meeting but I do have a question about our board policy regarding outside employment. After reading eveyone's comments it seems like our policies regarding outside employment are extremely lax. What exactly would one have to do in order to violate our outside employment policy?? Mr. Searles, do you think it would be considered a violation if a Holmdel staffer was making phone calls and sending emails for their second job during our normal business hours here in the Holmdel schools? Would you consider that more than 'moonlighting?'
Jess December 21, 2012 at 12:27 AM
omg Giacobbe is somehow connected to this mess? If that woman is involved there is definitely something shady going on. When she was Principal at Village School she had very questionable ethics and decision making ability to put it mildly. And coincidentally she was very buddy buddy with Mrs. Duncan during her days at Village School. But even Mrs. Duncan couldn't save her when was finally let go due to inappropriate postings that she put on her FB page....where she said that the children of Holmdel were spoiled brats. Another example of one of Mrs. Duncan's cronies!
Dave Searles December 21, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Agree about Giacobbe We had an issue with Giacobbe that we brought to Ms. Duncan and she handled it swiftly. Within hours of sending our email to Ms. Duncan outlining our issue, she agreed with our perspective and soon thereafter we received a personal apology from Giacobbe. From my experience, I would not describe them as cronies!
Peter G December 21, 2012 at 01:57 AM
I wonder if an 'attorney" and a 'law enforcement" officer, identifying something that rises to the severity of a "Penn State" or "Brookdale College" type crime, have filed a complaint with the County Prosecutors Office? If not, why not? Both are versed in the law. Something not adding up.
tony December 21, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Peter G, I am going to assume you are referring to Mrs. Vander Woude when you say 'attorney' and Mr. Pavlik when you say 'law enforcement' officer, and I am also going to urge you to please read all of the facts about this situation before you comment. If you had read their statements in the Patch you would have know that they never identified a "crime" that rises to the severity of a "Penn State" or "Brookdale College." http://holmdel-hazlet.patch.com/articles/two-holmdel-school-board-members-say-they-are-being-bullied-by-colleagues-over-raising-issue Mrs. Vander Woude stated "We can never forget the lessons learned from Brookdale Community College and Penn State and the failure of their boards to act." She was not referring to that type of crime being committed, but instead the fact that in both of those instances there was a COMPLETE FAILURE OF THEIR BOARDS TO ACT. A FAILURE TO ACT was the lesson learned, and thankfully Mrs. Vander Woude, Mr. Pavlik and Mrs. Pascucci were not going to allow a FAILURE TO ACT to happen on their watch. I have no idea what kind of complaints Mrs. Vander Woude, Mr. Pavlik and Mrs. Pascucci have filed, but if this staffer did perform any tasks for their second job during the normal business hours for their primary job in the Holmdel School district that is a crime that can be punishable with jail time. And that is a fact.
Dave Searles December 21, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Andrew, what I consider is irrelevant. I don't know the rules. Can they use lunch time, break time, vacation days, personal days, sick days etc to conduct other business? I have no idea. Personally, I am disappointed the rules allow for a director to have a similar position with another district. I think they should review that when it can be revisited. We have an elected board that has been entrusted with adjudicating these issues. They have the benefit of knowing the rules and they also know the facts of the case. If they are satisfied that there has not been a violation, I accept that. Why? Because I keep coming up empty when I try to ascribe a motive to 6 board members tolerating behavior that violates the employment agreement and, consequently, robs the town of the value we expect for our money. Just because something looks wrong it does not necessarily mean it is wrong. We are in the grandstand, we can say what "should" happen. But when you are in the position of responsibility, you have to be fair and apply the rules as they stand ... even if you find them disagreeable.
Jeff December 21, 2012 at 04:27 AM
There's a difference between dissent, and blatant disregard for privacy laws and regulations.
Jeff December 21, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Gee, just trying to bully people into silence, aren't you? Where have we heard that before? If you'd like to know how they violated any privacy and codes of ethics, just wait until charges are brought, if they are. It'll be a matter of public record. If they're not, don't worry about it.
Jeff December 21, 2012 at 04:40 AM
Clearly standing up for the taxpayers and students? How do you know that? By making baseless allegations, wasting board time on something that's not against the rules? Sounds more like the OTHER board members, the MAJORITY of the board, are the ones doing that.
Andrew December 21, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Holy cow, thank you very much for this link Mr. Searles. http://www.beverly.k12.nj.us/files/Aug2012Agenda.pdf When I looked on pages 213-217 I was floored to see just how lengthy the job description is for the Director of Special Services position in the Beverly School. How could our Superintendent, Board Attorney, and a majority of our Board of Education members possibly believe that someone could SUPERVISE the Beverly district's special education program on the weekend, at night, or during their lunch hour/coffee break. That doesn't sound like a sound investigation to me. Here are just some of the many "Performance Responsibilities" for the Beverly School Director of Special Services: "responsible for recruitment, assignment, supervision and evaluation of all certified and non-certified special education staff," "supervises and coordinates the activities of child study team members," "attends child study team meetings and assumes responsibility for the preparation and timely submission of all required documents and reports, in order to assure district compliance with legal requirements of this process" and much much more (also keep in mind that Beverly is over an hour away from Holmdel and part of the job description requires "attending child study team meetings.").
Andrew December 21, 2012 at 05:10 AM
It seems to me that both Holmdel and Beverly are being cheated by not having a dedicated Director of Special Services, and both districts are not getting their money's worth from this Administrator level position. I wonder if the Beverly School district knows that their Superintendent hired a staffer that already has a full time job in Holmdel and is allegedly only 'moonlighting' for them during evening, weekend hours and/or lunch and coffee breaks for such a significant and important position within their school.
"Big Mike" December 21, 2012 at 01:31 PM
To Peter G, Yes I was at the meeting and no I wasn't wearing one of my T-Shirts. If you know how to read and saw one of my last posts, they're on order! You and this searles guy should get together. Both of you sound like 2 rocket scientists. He just has one over you right now, he's a "Brown Noser" !!!
"Big Mike" December 21, 2012 at 01:34 PM
"Brown Noser"
"Big Mike" December 21, 2012 at 01:34 PM
"Brown Noser"
"Big Mike" December 21, 2012 at 01:35 PM
"Brown Noser"
"Big Mike" December 21, 2012 at 01:35 PM
"Brown Noser"
Peter G December 21, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Tony, I read the statements regarding "Penn State" and Brookdale". To use such examples, in my mind, infers that a serious offense was committed in Holmdel. My question still stands. Why has this not been reported to the County Prosecutors Office? As you state, if business was conducted on Holmdel time for Beverly, and vice versa, it is a crime. If the three board members felt they were "bullied" or that there is a "cover-up" all the more reason to go to the Prosecutor's Office. Hopefully, this will event will be brought to court and the facts will emerge. Than we can all go back to buying Big Mike's T-shirts. Possibly, by that time he will have a line of Big Mike's cologne! What do you think Mike?
Chris Jones December 21, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Let's keep in mind this is all speculation at this point because no one will confirm anything about this shady situation. Having said that, even if the person in question was working on a part time basis for Beverly, it is not reasonable to think she could hold the same exact position in two schools, regardless of how small the school may be or whether it is full or part time. Mr. Searles, I understand your not wanting to crucify anyone without the facts, but don't you think it may be possible that the Board did not want this coming to light and thus their "investigation" put a lid on it and that is why the other 3 Board members may have decided to address it again? I truly hope there is a logical explanation and this Holmdel/Beverly connection is a mere coincidence, but the fact still remains that if it is not and this is the "second job" that 6 of 9 board members felt was a non-issue, that is a problem. Whether she checked an email or made a phone call or split time between both places, that is double dipping and there is a clear distinction between "moonlighting" as some people keep saying and getting paid from two districts for the same billable hours. The plot also thickens quite a bit if it's true that the current Beverly Superintendent is the former principal of Village school because both she and the staff member in question are on numerous prior Holmdel board agendas as serving on the same committees
Good Neighbor December 21, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Regarding the inappropriate comment by Vinny posted on Thursday, Dec 20th at 7:15am stating "Chartwells is a completely incompetent company." How slanderous and inappropriate. Chartwells has been a great company for our children's school lunches. The food service manage who carried the Marley's drink who was removed as was on this website. Do you know they are sold all over??? I hope Chartwells takes this up with you as this is so uncalled for. Chartwells lunches are delicious. Who are you to say that milk, juice and water should be served. There are children who are lactose intolerant and diabetic in the school system. This is a democracy, isn't it?? Chartwells should take this up with you because you are slandering the whole company for NO apparent valid reason.
Chris Jones December 21, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Barb, do a simple Google search for Chartwells complaints or Chartwells scandal and you will see Vinny's comment is far from the worst thing that is said about this company. You must work for them or something. "Chartwells lunches are delicious", you sound like a bad commercial. You really believe they should be selling Starbucks espresso shots to kids in a school? Numerous students have confirmed that the Marley drink was being sold long before October 16 as the Chartwells reps claimed so they are full of it. Wake up and do a little research before you chime in from the peanut gallery
Gayle Casas December 21, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Yours is a very thoughtful post, Justine. I feel the same. I would implore the Board of Education member or members who filed this complaint to drop their ethics violation charges against the three board members in the interest of our children. If Board of Education members, who are not paid a dime for their service, are to be denied the freedom of speech at their confidential, non-public meetings regarding personnel matters, and litigation can arise against any Board members who discuss sensitive personnel matters during these privately held meetings, what is the benefit to any Board of Education member in participating in such meetings, or of even holding such an important post in the first place? Our Board of Education members are not paid to perform their duties, yet apparently they can be sued directly and made to pay out of pocket for their legal defense merely for speaking out on confidential personnel matters. I find this most disturbing. To whomever filed the complaint-- please rescind it. What possible benefit could there be to the people of Holmdel from going forward with this complaint?
Good Neighbor December 21, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Chris, Not necessary to slander a whole company... Their lunches were very good. I have no complaints about them . I just don't like to read slander,,, I commented on the above slander and your irrelevant comments.
page December 21, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Dear All Maybe the other board members who are not addrressing the issue or supporting their fellow board members may also feel intimidated. Althought the board president Ms Garrity did not confirm or deny it was herself who filed, if it was I can understand the other 5 board members being a little nervous to get involved. Sadly in our society today too many people look the other way
"Big Mike" December 21, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Listen, stop pokin around in the weeds. If you want a T-Shirt from Big Mike, They 're free! I don't squeak. The cologne, Hmmmmm I like that idea. Maybe I'll let you be a member of the BMFC and you can be in charge of marketing??? Too late for Christmas cards. Just tell me what size you want, OK tough guy!!!
"Big Mike" December 21, 2012 at 11:31 PM
And no "Brown Nosers" allowed in my club!!!
Antoniette December 22, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Thank you Page I said the same thing before but my comment was deleted for no reason. I don't know why we express our views because majority of comments get deleted. I guess the truth hurts.
Peter G December 22, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Thanks BM for the gracious offer of a free T-Shirt and possible job offer. But, I'll have to decline both. Not enough money in marketing and, since leaving the military, not a T-shirt guy. If you decide to speak at the next Board meeting I would like to thank you, in person, for your very kind offer. Most generous.
Michael Nikolis December 22, 2012 at 03:39 AM
I've never tasted the food served in our schools, but If you ask most students how the food tastes, they usually respond with the Gas Face.. However, I have tasted the food served over at Ranney School in Tinton Falls.. Absolutely amazing.. They are serviced by Compass Food Group.. I say we switch to them, then delicious food would provide an incentive for parents to eat lunch with their kids.. Parents would get more involved in the schools.. The schools would then be safer.. Its a win win!!!
Antoniette December 22, 2012 at 04:03 AM
thank you SAC for this link wow very interesting!!!!!
Maggie December 22, 2012 at 04:47 AM
FYI Having the experience of what bullying can do it went on for Many Years in my town of Toms River due to having cronies. Everyone on the BOE closed both their eyes and ears as to what was going on right under their noses and look where it got our children!!! Our superintendent diverted the attention from himself by building The Ritacco Center back in 2003 and that's not a typo, he named it after himself, Then he decided we needed a sport complex by erecting the John Bennett Indoor sport complex. He took a lot of heat after naming the Ritacco Center he then pulled out the name of an Outstanding Superintendent from precious years and name the complex after John Bennett. Again just to divert the attention from himself, To Smell Like a Rose. I believe someone is trying to Divert attention away from themself at this time by filing those ethic charges against those 3 honest board members. Its all about Control and Power with some people not the concern and well being of our children. Only you know how she behaves behind closed doors, the one that yells the loudest is the one you need to investigate. We have police in our schools for quite some time now, which I believe was due to illegal drugs which had been there since my daughter was in intermediate school and she is now 37, If there is a $$$ issue maybe retired police officers would be the answer. I hope this enlightens anyone with concerns about your district, Ritacco is now serving time behind bars!!!

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