reputation was victim to the collusion of its former superintendent and insurance broker, who pleaded guilty last month to federal charges related to a $2 million bribery scheme.
These were among the points of a multi-page statement read by Board President Ed Gearity that condemned former superintendent Michael Ritacco. The district is aggressively reforming itself to ensure it would never happen again and is also aggressively trying to recover moneys taken from Toms River Regional.
“As a board we feel betrayed by the former Superintendent, and the entire community was betrayed by the former Superintendent. What happened here was not a failure of the system, it was a failure of an individual and a violation of the trust imparted to him, both statutorily and in practice, by the very nature of his position.
The statement was met with audience applause. Later in the meeting residents asked why the district had Ritacco serving as both the superintendent and the business administrator, despite the recommendation of the state commission of investigation to the contrary, and said in their opinion this was part of the problem.
The complete statement can be found .
Transportation Workers Decry Privatization Idea
A large contingent of the district’s transportation and cafeteria workers came out in protest of recent statements by one board member who suggested the district explore privatizing the departments.
While board member Alex Pavliv said he was motivated by potential savings he felt the district could see, the transportation and cafeteria employees decried the idea, fearing they’d lose jobs, and that the district’s high level of service would suffer, they said.
Although a large number of workers lined up to speak, early in the public comment portion board members Ben Giovine and Gus Kakavas stated that the district had not been exploring privatization, and urged the board to draft a statement that showed its support for the current structure. The statement of support passed, with Pavliv voting no.
Professional Contracts Approved
The school board agreed to reappoint or extend the contracts of all current professionals. The annual contracts were set to expire this month.
While the recommended passed, board members Pavliv, Giovine and Loreen Torrone voted no to some of the contracts, such as the reappointment of R.C. Shea as workers compensation attorney.
End of Year Honors
Last night's school board meeting began with a large number of student and staff awards, highlighting students' scholastic, athletic and community achievements.
In addition, the district honored its 2012 Teachers of the Year and the Transportation Employees of the Year.
Check back for additional stories and more in-depth coverage of last night’s school board meeting from Toms River Patch.