School Board Member Exposes Interference by Toms River Councilman
Board Member Kathy Egan: “I was told to urge a board member to change their vote on a new superintendent: “it would be to that person’s benefit.”
Toms River, NJ – Alarming allegations were voiced during a meeting of the Toms River Regional Board of Education on Wednesday. Board Member Kathy Eagan said she was pressured by a Toms River councilman on a phone call to encourage a board member to “change their vote” in the selection process of the new superintendent. Citing that “it would be to that person’s benefit.”
Eagan stated, “I was told to tell someone on the committee that it would be to that person’s benefit to change their vote.”
Jason Crispin, Republican council candidate in Ward 2, said he was concerned by the revelation, saying, “I was alarmed by these allegations. If any member of the Township Council is trying to intimidate school board members it is extremely unethical and must be addressed immediately.”
Because of this controversy, the Toms River School Board is now discussing whether to hire a private firm to handle the superintendent search. Over the last three years the school district has had to slash staff and programs due to Governor Murphy’s drastic school funding cuts. Hiring a private recruiting firm will result in the unnecessary spending of up to $20,000 at a time when the district should be conserving money and concentrating on students and their education.
Councilman Matt Lotano voiced his concern stating, “It’s highly inappropriate for a councilman to attempt to coerce a committee member to change their vote. After the challenging past year, we should be solely focused on our students’ education and safety and not the personal interests of rogue politicians.”
This event follows another similar incident in January 2020 when the Toms River Council was issued a letter by Board of Education President Joe Nardini regarding Councilman Dan Rodrick’s attempt to pressure the Board of Education through potential unethical interference.
“Volunteers elected to oversee schools are required to adhere to a code of ethics. Attempting to influence a school board member into voting for a particular person
violates the code of ethics. These violations open the board member to possible censure, and even removal from elected office,” said Jason Crispin.
“This councilman’s conduct was out-of-line and should be immediately investigated. There is a public trust that hiring of public employees is done in a fair and transparent manner, not through strong-arming and veiled threats,” Crispin concluded.
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