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School Board Member Asks Governor to Intervene

Michael Strumolo wants Chris Christie to come to Parsippany to address his complaints regarding the Board of Education.

Parsippany Board of Education member Michael Strumolo, making strong allegations against Superintendent LeRoy Seitz, sent a request to Gov. Chris Christie Thursday asking him to hold a Town Hall meeting in the township to address a host of his complaints regarding the board.

The complaints start with Strumolo's charge that he experienced harassment, threats and intimidation at the hands of "an Ex-Officio member of the board who in the past has tried to exact retribution for my refusal to vote for his contract."

The board member is referring to Seitz, who is the only ex-officio member of the board, and who spent more than a year at odds with Strumolo and with Christie because of Seitz's contract negotiations.

The dispute was about money: Christie imposed a cap on superintendent salaries and publicly assailed Seitz and the Parsippany BOE in 2011 because the contract renegotiated in November 2010 did not comply with that cap.

The , calling him "the poster boy of greed."

After a year of back-and-forth and , the board produced a new contract that complied with the Christie cap and . Seitz filed suit against the board and the state for breach of contract; the BOE countersued for . The hearing is expected to begin in September.

Strumolo wrote to the governor that subsequent alleged retaliation against him by the "ex-officio member" has made his ability to fulfill his role as school board member "extremely difficult if not impossible at times."

The BOE member then related a number of questions that appear to allege potentially improper activities by unnamed school board colleagues. Among them:

  • Can multiple members of the board who have numerous family members working within the district vote on issues posed by an ex-officio member who has control either real or implied over his or her family members?
  • Can an ex officio member be held personally accountable if he wields his authority with malice and forethought to obtain retribution?
  • Can an ex-officio member of a board manipulate it with members who are possibly fearful of his retribution [toward] their family members?
  • Can a member of the board who willfully did not fill out the required background disclosure form accurately serve on the board?
  • Can members of the board, employed by other school systems, work with an ex-officio member who also works in that system? Or does this create an atmosphere of cronyism?
  • Can an ex-officio member who is out of touch with the reality of the taxpayers trying to survive in this economy continue to propose and expend funds by manipulating projects through threats and innuendos?

Patch asked Strumolo about what he hoped to accomplish by sending his requests and allegations to the governor, especially given the nearness of the start of the new school year.

"I believe people in Parsippany sent me there to be their voice, to ask the tough questions and to watch their tax dollars," he said. "The superintendent is continually interfering with my performance of my constitutional and statutory duties by threatening me with ethics charges, acting like an attorney and telling me I am violating the law when we have a board attorney who is very competent."

Strumolo said these alleged threats, about which he would not elaborate, have come "multiple times" when the board is in closed session.

His action comes after an Aug. 1 closed session of the board. Strumolo stormed out of the meeting and was not present when the board voted to spend up to $5,000 to hire attorney Gary Stein of the Pashman Stein firm in Hackensack to handle unspecified litigation.

In 2011, Stein, a former state Supreme Court associate justice, was hired by the Elizabeth Public Schools to probe alleged corruption in that district's school lunch program.

Board President Frank Calabria is away on vacation could not be reached for comment.

Seitz has been informed of Strumolo reaching out to the governor, but has declined to comment.

Christie's office said he is out of town and unavailable for comment.

steve revette August 20, 2012 at 02:46 PM
I don't get why people think Seitz is so good. The school district since he's been here has gone down hill. They refuse to deal with issues and a lot of teachers and administrators in the schools are Terrible. I have NO sympathy for him what's so ever and I'm glad the governor intervened. Also he said out right that we wait until we have written proof before we go further on anything. Funny how it wasn't like that for his contract. To this day we still don't have a signature for that contract and I think that is hilarious. The sooner this guy goes the better. I praise Mr. Strumolo for doing everything he can to get answers to his questions.
Angelina August 20, 2012 at 04:02 PM
agreed the mayor and the board of ed are 2 totally different entities in the town and dont relate to each other. Time to blame someone else for a change...
Carol M. August 21, 2012 at 11:57 AM
Ms Nicole I can see how some just reading the bullet points in the article might think them serious unless; you've been at meetings when they were answered by the lawyers or, you’ve sat watching Strumolo hurl accusations left & right or, if you didn't know about policy like Mrs Sclafani mentions or, if you didn't realize there are places elected can go with concerns or, if you didn't consider the laws to protect employees, or if you thought a relative working in a school was unique to Parsippany alone or, if you didn't know that all the boe passed a criminal background check or, if you didn’t know that all the boe voted against the super’s contract along the way or, if you didn't think calling on the Governor for a town hall meeting to address someones laundry list of gripes sounded pretty ridiculous or, if you didn't have the thought I had when I saw the headline which was, here Strumolo goes again all over the media by his own accord to see his own name in print with some exaggerated content supposedly being the voice of the people rather then spending time doing what he was elected to do which is to educate our children! How many times are we going to see Strumolo in the headlines about everything but education? I've lost count and I'm tired of it. It would seem that there are 8 others on the boe working to focus on education yet Mr Strumolo thinks calling on the Governor to act as playground referee is what's important and deserves our attention? Really?
VietNam Vet August 21, 2012 at 05:02 PM
carol, you must be just like Monica, with to much time on your hands. Maybe you don't mind being racked over the HOT coals. Maybe you like being racked over the HOT coals everytime your idiot buddy opens his mouth about something, but the rest of us don't have your kind of money to just throw around. If you wnt to throw it away, throw some this way I'll be glad to take it just like steitz the greedy jerk. I have know idea whats in it for you, so why don't you tell us why you think so much of this greedy idiot? Tell us all just how smart you think you democraps really are, I think many of us would like to know. I think you are the only idiot here that likes to see her name in print. The only thing Mr.Strumolo is trying to do is save us some taxpayer money, I hope he can, but its unfortunate that you would save as well, to bad he couldn't save the rest of us money but charge you double since you have so much to throw around. Get a brain will you, and wake up to what this greedy jerk is trying to do again. Maybe you arn't smart enough to know that, but maybe if your nice, Mr Strumolo might tell you someday, I know I wouldn't.
steve revette August 21, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Carol it's not the point. Also your bringing up Mr. Strumolo as making accusations. Why did Choffo make accusations? My biggest concern is why we vote on things without written consent? I'm sorry but I have never heard of that happening anywhere except Parsippany. Also how is asking the governor to come to Parsippany ridiculous? To me ridiculous is some board members having information and some not having information. Ridiculous is voting on contracts without OFFICIAL approval. Ridiculous is to have lawyers at meetings who sit there and say NO COMMENT.Ridiculous is having somebody spend taxpayer money to sue the taxpayers. Also going to the governor is a place he could go. Maybe Mr. Strumolo didn't want get answers from the same person who told Mancuso he could do things unilaterally.

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