A third Phillipsburg High School teacher faces criminal charges in an alleged tenure scheme targeting a school district employee, the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office said Friday.
Scott Silvis, 42, of Upper Nazareth Township, was arrested after the ongoing investigation revealed he provided “material support” to the two teachers previously charged, George Chilmonik and Dave Post, according to Prosecutor James Pfeiffer.
Authorities last month arrested Chilmonik, 74, of Bethlehem Township, and Post, 36, of Pohatcong Township, for an alleged threat against a Phillipsburg School District employee. The threat involved exposing embarrassing information unless a district employee acted on their demands to influence a tenure vote, authorities have said. Investigators have not identified the employee.
A teacher or principal can be granted tenure after four academic years of service to a New Jersey public school, according to the state Department of Education. The status offers protection against termination.
The school district announced the additional faculty member’s arrest in a community message Friday.
“The alleged crimes are unrelated matters involving the staff members teaching responsibilities and do not involve any students,” the message states. “However, please know that we remain committed to ensuring the health and safety of our students as well as taking the appropriate steps in our schools to continue to keep our students safe.”
Silvis will be placed on administrative leave with pay and is prohibited from being on district property, said district Business Manager Staci Horne. Chilmonik and Post also are on administrative leave and barred from school district property. Both are awaiting a pre-indictment conference in their criminal cases.
Silvis is charged with second-degree conspiracy to commit official misconduct, third-degree conspiracy to commit criminal coercion and third-degree conspiracy to commit threats and improper influence in official and political matters.
Upon conviction, second-degree crimes carry a maximum of 10 years in New Jersey State Prison, with third-degree offenses carrying a maximum five years in state prison.
He was sent to the Warren County jail and is expected to be released following his first court appearance Saturday, Pfeiffer told lehighvalleylive.com.
Silvis is a math teacher, as are Chilmonik and Post, and a longtime assistant wrestling coach for the Phillipsburg Stateliners, Pfeiffer said. Post is the school’s head wrestling coach.
It was not immediately clear whether Silvis has an attorney. A woman who answered a phone number listed for his home said it was the wrong number.
The Warren County Prosecutor’s Office is conducting the investigation, which Pfeiffer described as active and continuing, alongside the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption North Unit. The school district said it is “working closely and in full cooperation” with the investigators.
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Kurt Bresswein may be reached at email@example.com.