Toms River Regional Schools has called a special meeting 6 p.m. tonight, Oct. 12, at High School North to decide whether to sue a candidate group.
The "Clean Slate Team" had distributed campaign materials via email to school district employee's work emails, according to the district, and the board will vote on whether to sue the individuals who make up the political team.
"Potential litigation to enjoin the 'Clean Slate Team' from using the Toms River Regional School District email system for political purposes," is the only item on tonight's meeting agenda.
The "Clean Slate Team" was first coined last year to describe the slate of candidates running for three seats at the time — Ben Giovine, Loreen Torrone and Alex Pavliv, who won the 2011 election — and is again being used this year for candidates Joseph Torrone, Ginny Rhine and Gigi Esparza.
At issue is the alleged election ethics violation of soliciting school employees to politically support candidates, via an email sent this week.
The three current members, Giovine, Loreen Torrone and Pavliv, will have to abstain from tonight's vote, which could decide whether the district would sue the "Clean Slate" individuals.
Though that is the purpose for calling a special meeting, one board member said the district needs investigate another incident as well. Pavliv said there was a violation where a political solicitation was distributed via flyer in support of three incumbent candidates – School board members Jack Reuther, Gus Kakavas and Jamie Jubert.
Pavliv said Superintendent Frank Roselli needs to investigate a September incident where at multiple schools a candidate political event flyer was posted on bulletin boards and allegedly passed among employees.
In a letter released by the "Clean Slate Team" Thursday night, Pavliv outlines how he sees the September incident is also a violation of state election ethics laws (Editor's Note: The Pavliv documents are attached as a .pdf to this article).
The November election has the three incumbents seeking re-election against four challengers — the three "Clean Slate" candidates plus candidate Charlotte Ford Spillane, who is running independently for the Toms River board seat.
The accusations of campaigning to school district employees has heightened an already contentious election that for the second year draws the impact of disgraced former Superintendent Michael Ritacco as an election issue.
The "Clean Slate" term calls for changes in the wake of the Ritacco scandal, hoping to increase transparency for contracts and personnel hirings. Contracts and hirings were two criticisms leveled against the school district by the candidates after Ritacco was accused and eventually sentenced for accepting bribes and kickbacks for hirings and insurance contracts.
As of last night, tonight's school board meeting would decide only whether the district would sue the individuals named as the "Clean Slate Team," and so far does not address Pavliv's request. The agenda is attached to this article.
The meeting is open to the public and begins 6 p.m. at High School North.
The special meeting was called approximately 48 hours of its scheduling, after the emails from "Clean Slate" were distributed this week. The agenda does not say how much of the district's employee email system was used. The incident is in regard to an email calling to support the three challengers and outlining their political platform.
Toms River Regional School Board Meetings are regularly held 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month, and after Friday's meeting the next one is Oct. 16 at High School North.