The Barnegat Township Board of Education is drawing criticism from residents and former board members amid allegations of nepotism that arose after the brother of the school board’s vice president was hired as a physics teacher at Barnegat High School.
This week’s meeting of the Barnegat school board drew fiery criticism from concerned residents, who expressed their concerns about one of the latest additions to the school district’s staff. Hired at the meeting was the brother of the current vice president of the Barnegat Township Board of Education, Robert Geddes. The brother was hired as a physics teacher at a salary of $88,000 for the upcoming school year.
Ocean County Politics interviewed two former board members who candidly shared their thoughts on the outcome of this week’s school board meeting hiring of a relative of an incumbent school board member.
Critics contend that hiring the brother of an incumbent board member raises questions of nepotism and may not have been the most cost effective decision given the alternatives.
Two Former Board Members Slam Barnegat Nepotism Hiring
Lisa Becker, who served two years as vice president of the school board and three as president, criticized the hiring of a board member’s family, alleging that it may be afoul of state ethics rules.
“The nepotism regulation is clear, you cannot hire family of administration or elected BOE members. There are but 2 exceptions – 1 the family member was employed before the family member was elected (at which point another set of regulations will apply and limit the board members conduct and participation in district business ; and 2 – if you apply for an exception to the county superintendent (who represents the state) and can prove exhaustive effort to fill the position and immediate need. The regulation goes further to attach a 6 month waiting period on new hires of vacating board members.”
“The problem with this situation is the fact that this family member is also coming in at nearly $30,000 above comparably experienced and certified teachers in the district.”
Recommends A Lower Priced Interim Teacher Instead Of Politician’s Pricier Relative
Added Becker, “The district could in fact cover the core schedule on a temporary basis by paying an additional stipend which is offered within the contract to currently employed science teachers, which would allow them additional time to post the position vacancy more widely before filling it with a family member who is being paid significantly more than any other employee in the district.”
Former School Board VP Condemns Nepotism: It “Has No Place In Our Barnegat”
Former school board member Denise Pilovsky, who most recently ran as one half of the “No More RINOS” independent ticket for Barnegat Township Committee, joined with those that were critical of the hiring, with her stating:
“Nepotism has no place in our Barnegat. The Barnegat Board of Education Vice President’s brother was just hired at $88,000.00 a year. A Barnegat Vice Principal and teachers with 20 years experience, and working in our district for 12 years are only making $60,000.00. This needs to stop. Our school taxes need to go to education and not to line the pockets of board member’s friends and family members. Under the state nepotism rules, a school board may not approve for employment the relative of any board member or administrator in the district without the executive county superintendent’s approval.”
Current school board members were predictably defensive about the hiring, according to those at the meeting.
Barnegat resident Jake Taylor, who frequently appears at township meetings, also spoke in opposition to the hire. He was not immediately available for comment.
State law requires school board members to agree to abide by a strict code of ehtics and not personally benefit from the official actions they take as school board members, with one of them being “I will vote to appoint the best qualified personnel available after consideration of the recommendation of the chief administrative officer.”