Barnegat: Superintendent Claims Nepotism, Corruption, Then Walks Back Her Allegations

BARNEGAT – Superintendent Karen Wood is walking back her claims of unethical activities in an official statement following a social media posting in which she made allegations of nepotism, coercision and corruption.

In a late July social media posting, Wood decried a slew of alleged unethical activity that she claimed was taking place in her district, but did not name names, only citing “some members of the Barnegat Board [of Education].” That board previously voted not to renew the superintendent’s contract, which led to calls from community members to renew the contract, with supporters of Wood creating a Facebook group advocating for the renewal of her contract.

“If the community knew the corrupt, anti-ethical acts, the bullying, the coercion, the misrepresentation of the Superintendent would they still support it???” Wood questioned in her original posting. “I’m so sad that small town politics allows for corruption, nepotism etc. I will always remain committed to student and teachers in Barnegat,” she added.

Earlier this year, nepotism became a concern when a relative of board of education vice president Robert Geddes was slated to be hired at a board meeting, and another board member, Gary Brown, created controversy when he responded to a resident with profanity-laced Facebook messages.

Screenshots Of Wood’s Original Postings:

Wood Apologizes, Deletes Posts

But just a few days later, Superintendent Wood was singing a different tune. In a statement dated August 1st that was emailed out to community members using the school district’s messaging system, and obtained by Ocean County Politics, she aplogized for her posting.

“On Saturday, July 23, 2017, on my private FaceBook account I posted a message that has become a distraction and, in retrospect, I made some poor word choices,” Wood said in the statement, which appeared on school district letterhead. “As a result, I removed the post, but now I want to make clear that I have no knowledge of any illegal or criminal conduct by any members of the Board, nor have any Board members displayed any such conduct. I am presently unaware of any violations of the School Ethics Act by any members of the Board. I sincerely apologize to the Board, staff and to the community for making the statements.”

Since these two statements appear to be factually and legally contradictory, we encourage anybody within the school district with information about these allegations to contact our partner website JerseyLeaks.org with any information, documentation or evidence that can substantiate them.

Gavin Rozzi

Gavin Rozzi is the editor of Ocean County Politics and a lifelong Ocean County resident, residing in Lacey Township. Gavin's work centers on the intersection of money and politics in Ocean County, with a focus on public corruption. In 2017 he created New Jersey's first statewide freedom of information portal, OPRAmachine.com. He can be reached via email at editor@politicsoc.com or via phone at (732)-504-3636 ext. 1 or on encrypted phone / text app Signal.

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19 Responses

  1. Mac says:

    If it wasn’t for nepotism and corruption, the Ocean County BOE’s, much like the Ocean County MUA’s, would serve no legitimate, must less intelligent and worthwhile, community purpose at all. But then again, that’s what they were created for in the first place, and Barnegat’s political makeup has never been shy about showcasing repeatedly the smallest possible inbred talents of our Ocean County Friends N Family #1 Charter Club of Nationally Renowned Shortcomings.

    • Justin Ba Ville says:

      Mac, are you saying that the local Municipal Municipal Utilities companies hire family members and friends? No way.

      • Mac says:

        I may be overplaying the Friends part of the Club perhaps. After 300-years of successfully running a mostly closed house (with the first 250-years being an outback lifestyle,) I believe there are far more relatives of various natures than friends.

        • Justin Ba Ville says:

          Yes indeed a family tree going back lets say even a few years would be a hoot. Everyone knows everyone in these one horse towns. Not withstanding 3rd cousins removed and married names, and inbreed whatever.

          • Mac says:

            After 50 years of rapid influx, these are hardly one horse towns anymore. My basic concern is why these formerly one horse towns still have one horse town ‘home rule racketeering’ leadership in this day and age. I understand why the ‘home rule’ crowd overwhelmingly supports the system, but I don’t understand why the majority that pay for it support it regardless of how they arrived in Ocean County.

    • llewellynh says:

      It’s a county wide problem sad to say.

      • Mac says:

        state wide

        • llewellynh says:

          I guess you are right but I lived up north and while it went on in both parties, usually members of both served on Boards and held town and county jobs. This one party rule seems to mainly up there show up in cities and there aren’t that many of them.

          • Mac says:

            Keep in mind North Jersey has some substance to offer worthwhile political corruption competition. Ocean County has sand castles and a two and a half month sand flea showcase economy. Since Ocean County has never served a purpose other than to send family members who couldn’t cut it in North Jersey to the seaside sandbox, we were reduced to the likes of Gilmore and Vicari. Now Ocean County in known throughout the state as the Mistress of the Norcross Empire.

          • llewellynh says:

            That’s not completely true of my neighborhood where many people do work up north. That commute is unbelievable and many, many people down here do it. If only we had a train we would be inundated with northerners.

          • Mac says:

            That’s my point. Most of the people that have moved here work outside of Ocean County, just as the residents born here do if they are able to compete outside of Ocean County. As a result, Ocean County is mostly bedroom communities of regular folks requiring only neighborhood services, the majority of which are business chains also from outside of Ocean County.

            Ocean County leadership has done little to nothing throughout the past several decades to responsibly improve the economy of its neighborhoods that the influx of residents blessed them with by moving here. However, there’s no shortage of cash going into the pockets of the ‘home rule’ racketeers.

          • llewellynh says:

            Completely agree and now we are watching Route 9 become a disaster and no one does a thing but watch the deterioration in Berkeley and the overbuilding in Lacey that contrasts poorly with the so much less expensive but more effective efforts made in Barnegat and Manahawkin. The latter two decided to try to retain some of their history while Berkeley had a mayor who felt every old house had to be torn down and the whole of Route 9 needed to be turned into strip malls. I was on a committee and tried to point out that the internet shopping movement would preclude the need for more small stores.

            Didn’t even get one sentence in that report and learned that it was just better to stay away.

            My sense of it is they take very good care of themselves and with their one or two pensions will get away from this State as soon as they can. They really have no interest in doing what you suggest. They improve their own personal economic situations and that’s the extent of their concern.

            And until people wake up and vote them out, it won’t change.

        • Mercy Otis Warren says:

          Country wide — perhaps even world wide. It is implicit in the idea of government. It is not something particular to Lacey, Ocean, NJ or the good ole USA.

          • Mac says:

            True. But like any kind of ‘leadership,’ personal class and integrity make all the difference in the world. And being saddled with one of the most toxic political leadership parade routes in America today, the Seaside to Lakewood Brotherhood Expressway, Ocean County is renowned for being one of the Seven Wonders of the World that Penicillin Doesn’t Have Any Hope of Curing.

          • Mercy Otis Warren says:

            That was great; thanks for the laugh.

  2. llewellynh says:

    Found it interesting to learn today that every single School Board member in Berkeley Township is running unopposed. To me that speaks of a community understanding that only family and friends need even try.

    Real and open elections just don’t seem to be in vogue in Ocean County.

  3. Ken Bank says:

    There are 7 candidates for 3 positions on Barnegat BOE. Only one incumbent is up for re-election, so at worst there will be two new people. Hopefully they will be more independent than the useless drones we have now.

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