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Crawford's Fourth Bid to Rescind Seitz's Contract Denied

Vote to allow the vote, which board attorney said was against Robert's Rules of Order, is defeated 5-4, despite threat of governor to withold state aid.

The school board  blocked a fourth attempt Thursday night to call for a vote to rescind the z after advice from the board attorney that another motion would have been against Robert's Rules of Order.

If the board doesn't rescind,from the district because Seitz's contract exceeds Christie's $175,000 salary cap for school administrators in districts the size of Parsippany.

The acting board attorney, Margaret Miller, who is filling in for regular board attorney Mark Tabakian, told the board it was against Robert's Rules, which govern how meetings are conducted, to vote on a contract that's already been executed.

After board member Robert Crawford called for a vote on whether to rescind, Board President Anthony Mancuso ruled him out of order for making the .   A second vote, seconded by Michael Strumolo, was taken to determine whether the board should override Mancuso's authority to squelch a vote on the contract.

"Stop interfering with the vote,'' he told Mancuso. "We're entitled to vote.'' 

That vote was defeated 5-4. Members Andrew Choffo, Anthony Mancuso, Frank Neglia, Deborah Orme and Frank Calabria voted in favor of upholding Mancuso's decision to disallow a vote. Voting against Mancuso were Robert Crawford, Michael Strumolo, who seconded Crawford's motion, Louis Valori and Fran Orthwein.

When pressed by Crawford, Miller said that unless the township had "broken the law'' the state couldn't withhold the entire $2.3 million. But the state could withhold a portion of it if it felt the district was "fiscally imprudent.'' 

In this case, that would only amount to $30,000 or $40,000, the difference between Christie's cap and Seitz's salary under the contract. The superintendent's contract would reach about $235,000 in five years.

Crawford had been blocked in December from making a motion to rescind the vote after Mancuso ruled him out of order, calling it "dilatory'' since the board had already voted.

Crawford justified the motion by explaining that Christie's reiterated threat of cutting state aid,  and a second letter from County Superintendent of Schools Kathleen Serafino, who ordered them to rescind, was enough reason for a vote on whether to reconsider.

"While board members may disagree about whether he had the authority to do this, the risk of it being withed is a real risk. It's a new and previously unknown bit of information,'' Crawford said. " It's incumbent upon the board to let the public know which member is or isn't willing to risk that state aid. It's appropriate for me to be allowed to ask. "

Orthwein questioned Mancuso on his contention that  the contract couldn't be discussed, even in terms of voting on whether to vote on rescinding, because it's in litigation. The board has claiming Serafino wrongly negated the contract.

"This has absolutely nothing to dew with the litigation,'' she said. "Why, on our second go-round with the letter [from Serafino], why is this just coming up now?  We've been through this two other times and every time the reasoning around this seem to be changing and I don't understand.''

She added, "Why would the county superintendent direct us to rescind a contract if we can't rescind a contracts under Robert's Rules?"

Strumolo then made a motion to call in "special counsel'' to review the opinion of Tabakian, who didn't attend the meeting because he was on vacation, according to Miller. That motion was also defeated 5-4, with Mancuso again breaking the tie.

Orthwein voted against, explaining that she didn't think a special counsel would resolve the issue.

"We based our decision [to approve the contract] because Tabakian allowed us to believe that we had the superintendent's signature, when in fact, we didn't,'' Strumolo said.

The grounds of the board's lawsuit against the state is that Serafino had approved the contract via e-mail and gave the impression that signing it was just a formality.

Strumolo's motion was defeated, but Choffo, who has been at odds with Strumolo and Crawford, sided with them to seek outside counsel.

"I think this issue has been tainted to the point where a third party would be beneficial,'' he said.

Leo Ballard February 25, 2011 at 03:49 AM
What does the Roberts Rules of Conduct say about breaking state law?
Leah Jansen February 25, 2011 at 03:53 AM
Christie is using this entire melodramatic scenario to flex his muscles and I for one would do as the BOE is doing now, defy Christie, just for the sake of not being bullied by a bully. Christie can enforce his cap when he dismisses his sidekick Kim and her ridiculous position and salary. She is as useless as they come and her salary represents waste to the tax payers.
Matt Clarkin February 25, 2011 at 04:16 AM
I'm no big Christie supporter, but the Lieutenant Governor position was created because the voters approved it back in 2005. He can't just eliminate a position that's in the NJ Constitution. Also, since the LTG doubles as the Secretary of State, it's not like there's really a new position in the state government. We essentially have an elected Secretary of State now who happens to have a different title and be 1st in the line of succession. All in all, not a whole lot of difference, even if she does just seem (publicly) to be "that woman who always stands behind Christie". Her position isn't really useless as long as you remember she's also the SoS.
Diane Campbell February 25, 2011 at 04:24 AM
Leah, perhaps you and I have a different agenda, but I am for the children of Parsippany and to defiantly go against Christie(for an issue I have yet to determine he has the right to do) would go against everything I believe in. For a man that has sat at BOE meetings and attended PTA meetings telling us that times are going to get tough but our focus is on the children...he is still holding out for a pay raise...??!! Members of the BOE tried to take a stand against the machine tonight and it is obvious that is a no-win situation. I will now focus my attention on a new slate of Board Members.
steve revette February 25, 2011 at 05:08 AM
Wow stupid very very stupid. I had to leave the meeting early because of an emergency wish I could have been there to offer my support.
steve revette February 25, 2011 at 05:13 AM
So can someone explain to me what happened were there any fights or arguments or anything. Now more of our money is going to be spent on suing the state for the 2.3 million in state aid.
Joe Casiner February 25, 2011 at 11:58 AM
The entire BOE , with the exception of Crawford & Strumolo, needs to be replaced...Arrogant out-of touch dictators with no idea of the current economic reality the Parsippany taxpayers are suffering....They had the tumerity to spend taxpayer money, without authorization, to defend an unpopular position regarding the exhorbitant pay increase to Seitz.
Lani Duffy February 25, 2011 at 12:16 PM
Well said Diane- I am in complete agreement and so are many many others.. are you reading this Mancuso? Because if we lose many of our children's programs including full day Kindergarten, art, music, etc. there is a long line of people who are ready to rescind this Board, or at least the ones who are irresponsibily wasting our tax payers money on a frivolous lawsuit and costing our children's education. I am also very disappointed in the way Seitz is handling this. I think he is a fine Super, but no one person is worth this, especially when many of the people of this community are losing jobs, let alone raises. Do the right thing, release the contract and let's get on with something worthwhile. Do you really need a few more thousand dollars in addition to the significant salary you have and the pensions you receive from other school districts? Especially after asking your Sr. admin staff for a salary freeze last year? What kind of example is this. I am appalled and ashamed of your actions- how much is enough?
Laura Quinn February 25, 2011 at 12:42 PM
I understand what the intention was of re-doing the contract. Dr. Seitz is a very good super and they didn't want to lose him. But...why would he stay when he is eligible to retire and get his pension based on the salary he has now versus taking a pay cut and getting a reduced pension. BUT....I think it was a very poor move to put the pay raise in the new salary. I think that if Dr. Seitz had declined the raise, but kept the new salary that the people of Parsippany would have been okay with it. At this point though, I'm going to be pissed as hell if we lose our funding because of this. I also think that the board members that repeatedly keep voting in favor of this contract at the expense of the children will see the anger of the taxpayers when it is time for their re-election...
Walter Isola February 25, 2011 at 01:21 PM
Forget about the people who say It's for the children for a moment I would like to know do they think that Dr.Seitz is worth 2.3 million dollars???????
Nick Kumburis February 25, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Vote out : Andrew Choffo, Anthony Mancuso, Frank Neglia, Deborah Orme and Frank Calabria who voted in favor of upholding Mancuso's decision to disallow a vote. Vote for: Robert Crawford, Michael Strumolo, Louis Valori and Fran Orthwein.
Ellen February 25, 2011 at 02:35 PM
Interesting to me that over and over it is recommend who we do and don't vote for. I am curious how many people really know how long a BOE candidate's term is and who of the above will even be on this years ballot. (Hint: based on current candidates decisions, it is only possible to vote in or out one of the names listed above - though nothing is final until March 8)
Stephanie Steere February 25, 2011 at 02:48 PM
I am just appalled by all of this. These board members and Superintendant are supposed to be working for us and THE CHILDREN of this district. To allow this to go on and risk our funding from the state, while we continue to rack up legal fees, (which our OUR tax dollars) is just disgraceful. I sure hope that the voters in our town are paying close attention and send a message when it comes time to vote for BOE members in April. After attending several meetings, I certainly know who I won't be voting for.
Jenn DeStefano February 25, 2011 at 02:58 PM
Diane, I have to agree with you...Dr Seitz sat at our PTA meetings and spoke to us about how we have to all make sacrifices for the children and we have to work at this together and all tighten our belts. Its a shame he has to play this game. Honestly its like to little boys playing in the sandbox and seeing who can hold out the longest. The only problem with what is going on is that in the end it is our children who will be hurt the most. We need to replace the board with members who will put the children first.
Nick Kumburis February 25, 2011 at 03:11 PM
Even one would shift the vote from 5-4 to 4-5, and the rest will come up for re-election at some point.
Leo Ballard February 25, 2011 at 04:26 PM
Choffo is up for re-election in April. Crawford is leaving the BOE to run for the Republican Town Council nomination against the two longtime incumbents. So there will be 2 BOE seats up for election.
steve revette February 25, 2011 at 04:32 PM
She is right Andrew Choffo is the only one that is running but Frank Calabria may be retiring. Also it pisses me off that they did not aloow a vote. Now I Am confused why didn't they ask for the over ride when they did have the numbers when Dr. Calabria was not present at the one meeting.
Chris February 25, 2011 at 05:50 PM
Well said Lani! I completely agree! Seitz should have gone into corporate America if he was in it for the money. If one decides to become a Superintendent, you would think he would have the best interests of the children as his priority- not his own personal gain!
Anya Sheiffele February 25, 2011 at 07:50 PM
Well, who honestly thinks he's going to stay for his whole 5 years? Maybe 2 or 3, I'm going to guess. He only needs to give 90 days, I believe, per his contract. There is so much ill will in this district right now for many reasons: the Bd's behavior, the contract, upcoming negotiations with teachers, uniforms. We need to get back on the right track, for the sake of the kids....and I say that sincerely.
steve revette February 25, 2011 at 08:11 PM
Anya is right. I mean does anybody else find what Marlene Wendolowski did insulting. There was so much drama over her contract and then a year into it she retires? Also I guarantee Seitz cannot take 5 more years of this.
Jeffrey Kreitman February 25, 2011 at 11:48 PM
As I guessed what would happen -- County school superintendent says no budget approval until contract is rescinded, via Gov's press secretary Story coming soon. —Tweeted 9 minutes ago.... Forget about the BOE -- it is time for SEITZ to step up and prove he is there for the kids. Besides the kids he now has over 2 million reasons to give up his raise / improper contract. In regards to BOE -- although Mancuso appears to feel that he knows all about the law - so far he has been wrong. First, he was wrong blocking Pat P from attending (first amendment). Second, now more importantly, he is wrong about how the state will react to the SEITZ contract. I hope he comes to his senses and stops wasting taxpayer dollars on a lawsuit that will be caught up in the courts for some time to come. The contract should be rescinded before it impacts the children of Parsippany. Quit being greedy and follow thru with your promise last year of Shared Sacrifice.
hetal joshi March 01, 2011 at 03:29 AM
Does State will support the children of Parsippany if residents decides to take their kids out of the public school and just send them to private school. Why to waste our money if no one has intrest in kids future. OMG what a nerve of most of the BOE members to agree with his raise at cost of our coutry's future(Our Children).

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