Thursday, August 09, 2007

Jerry Green - Ledger - Seeks probe of Bd of Ed

Published in the Star-Ledger, Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Assemblyman seeks probe of Plainfield board's actions

Star-Ledger Staff

In a letter to the state Department of Education commissioner, Assemblyman Jerry Green has called for an investigation into "the operation and governance of the Plainfield Public School District."

The Aug. 2 letter to Commissioner Lucille Davy alleged "potential fiscal abuses occasioned by the appointment of an interim superintendent at the rate of $850 per day upon the sole recommendation of the board's legal counsel," Green wrote. The school board hired Peter Carter as interim superintendent June 8, after Paula Howard resigned from that position.

Green (D-Plainfield) wrote that he was also concerned about "an ethical breach" on the board's part because an attorney for the law firm representing Carter in his recent case against the New Jersey Association of School Administrators is a partner in the law firm Hunt, Hamlin & Ridley. That firm also represents the Plainfield Board of Education.

A spokesman for the state Department of Education, John Zlock, said the commissioner received and read Green's letter, then forwarded it to the agency's Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance, which will be reviewing it.

The assemblyman believes the school board forced Howard out, and said he thought the board should have kept her in place for another month, as stated in her contract, to ease the transition.

Howard rescinded her resignation shortly after she tendered it, but the board had by that time already hired Carter. No reason was given for Howard's departure, and the decision came just five months after the board extended her contract another three years, at $160,000 a year.

In an interview Monday, Green said he didn't have any ax to grind against the board of education and did not have any allegiance to Howard.

"We needed each other in order to move the district ahead," he said of his relationship with the former superintendent.

Carter's per diem salary equals an annual income of $220,000, Green said, though Carter was only brought on as a temporary superintendent until his replacement is hired.

A copy of Green's letter was sent to Lisa James-Beavers, executive director of the School Ethics Commission and David Johnson Jr., director of the state Office of Attorney Ethics. It was not sent to the Plainfield Board of Education nor to the interim superintendent.

Reached yesterday, school board president Patricia Barksdale said she could not comment on the letter because she hadn't seen it. Louis Rivera, the Plainfield board of education's director of community relations, referred all calls to Carter, who could not be reached for comment.

Alexi Friedman may be reached at (908) 302-1505 or

Link to online story.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Plainfield Today, Plainfield Stuff and Clippings have no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of these articles nor are Plainfield Today, Plainfield Stuff or Clippings endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

Blog Archive

About Me

Plainfield resident since 1983. Retired as the city's Public Information Officer in 2006; prior to that Community Programs Coordinator for the Plainfield Public Library. Founding member and past president of: Faith, Bricks & Mortar; Residents Supporting Victorian Plainfield; and PCO (the outreach nonprofit of Grace Episcopal Church). Supporter of the Library, Symphony and Historic Society as well as other community groups, and active in Democratic politics.