.

Serafino: Rescind Contract or Lose Millions in Aid

County superintendent again threatens loss of state aid over superintendent's deal.

After months of waiting for an answer regarding how to proceed with a new contract for Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz, the Parsippany school board finally got one. Cut Seitz's pay by $43,000 or risk losing up to $3.6 million in state school aid.

A week after the public revelation that under a , County Executive Superintendent Kathleen Serafino had her say.

In a letter that went to the board, according to the Daily Record, Serafino made several statements, including demanding that Seitz's salary must be reduced to $177,500 to meet the school administrators salary cap imposed by Gov. Chris Christie, and ordering the district to allocate the remaining $43,000 to instruction related to the core curriculum.

Because the news came at the same time that the township's school board members were returning from a New Jersey School Board Association conference, most were not available for comment Wednesday night.

Serafino, who also attended the conference and who, according to Board of Education Co-Vice President Frank Neglia, did not mention the letter, also could not be reached for comment.

Neglia said he is "confused" by Serafino's latest threat.

"We, in good faith, tried to get a clarification from her on how to proceed," he said. "This will just create a situation that will pit board member against board member and community member against community member. This does not help us fulfill our real purpose, providing the best education possible for our children."

Neglia said he expects that Board President Frank Calabria will not delay in addressing the county executive superintendent's most recent correspondence.

with the loss of state aid. In July, the threats, which included charging board members with ethics violations and taking away Seitz's educational certification, pushed the board into voting to rescind the five-year deal it struck with Seitz in November 2010.

That deal was made to circumvent Christie's plan to impose a salary cap for school administrators. The November pact was agreed upon before the cap went into effect, but after Christie had announced his plans.

After the July vote to rescind that agreement, the board said it would prepare a new contract for Seitz, but that did not happen. On July 13, Seitz's lawyer, Andrew Babiak, wrote to Mark Tabakin, the school board attorney, declaring "the board may not reduce Dr. Seitz's salary below $212,000," his base salary as outlined in the expired contract that preceded the November agreement, "without violating his contractual tenure rights." 

On Aug. 5, Serafino wrote a letter demanding a revised contract that complied with the Christie cap, according to Tabakin. Ten days later, he wrote back to her, saying the board needed to know whether, as Babiak said, the old contract would be acceptable.  Getting no response, Tabakin wrote to Serafino again on Sept. 1, Sept, 19 and Oct. 13. Patch has the dated letters in its possession.

The most recent letter asked Serafino to "provide the maximum salary amount that you will authorize" for Seitz.

The answer came in Serafino's letter as reported in the Daily Record: $177,500. 

Serafino's response appeared after Seitz filed a complaint with Acting Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf. The petition dated Sept. 14 asked Cerf to state that Serafino had exceeded her authority when she ordered the voiding of the November contract. 

Seitz has continued to decline comment on the matter, though he  that as the only experienced senior administrator in the district, he would not leave Parsippany in the lurch.

"I would not let this town down by leaving with an interim business admiministrator, personnel director and curriculum director in place. I think that would be very unprofessional at the very least, and I think possibly immoral," Seitz said. "So if something happens in terms of me leaving, there will be a transitional period. I'm not going to say to the board, 'Hey, in 60 days I'm outta here.' That would be unacceptable and it's certainly something I wouldn't do."

The superintendent so far has not commented on the latest threat from Serafino.

Jonathan Walker October 27, 2011 at 08:09 AM
We gave them a chance, fire the board. Seitz is garbage at this point. 11 of the 14 schools are failing, for some it is not there first offense.... the board's defense is that the state upped their standards and supplemented this by saying the schools increased by a marginal 1 percent at most. seitz slapped the town in the face by giving himself a PAY RAISE to 220k, the complete opposite direction the state wanted. He did it because he thought nobody would find out. Fire neglia for supporting seitz and just being a general pain in the ass for the people of this town. Fire orme because she is sneaky and backstabbing. Strumolo is not the friendliest of people but he has very agreeable views and takes everything into consideration before making a decision. As for the rest, I havent heard much about them. and go ahead, make your nasty comments lashing back at me, truth is, i know more about them than they do about me, and anyone who disagrees with me at this point is entitled to it but i will automatically assume you are either one of the members or just plain stupid. On a side note, what is this saying to the students? The kids will find any weakness and exploit it. hmm maybe there is a correlation between misbehaving greedy board members and misbehaving, failing students.
Jonathan Walker October 27, 2011 at 08:15 AM
I hate to say it but maybe taking away state aid would open more of the general public's eyes which would cause an uprising against these gluttons; To show how self centered and messed up Seitz must be to care for himself more than the students. He cares more about a couple of thousand dollars on his paycheck more than millions for the kids.
gina s. October 27, 2011 at 10:37 AM
I absolutely agree that seitz needs to go. The schools are outdated, overcrowded and failing not because if the teachers but because the board and especially seitz are allowing it to happen. Seitz needs to stop being so arrogant and while I realize he has a contract, it should be revised to accept the pay that is allowed, not what he wants. Let's think about this....if you were at a job and you did not do what you were supposed to you would be fired. Why is parsippany allowing him to continue to fail and then get more money on top of it. It's time for a change. Someone who will bring the schools back to an acceptable level. The board is a laughingstock. Instead of addressing our old and overcrowded schools, we are continually talking about this man who is the only one who thinks he deserves a pay raise. Has he ever sat in one of these crowded classrooms to understand what these teachers are dealing with? Highly unlikely. This extra money that he thinks he deserves could be used to hire another teacher to relieve one grades overcrowding.
Chris October 27, 2011 at 10:45 AM
Well said gima
Bob Crawford October 27, 2011 at 01:02 PM
A couple of questions: Who authorized the Superintendent to continue to be paid an annual salary of $220,565.00 when the BOE ,in July, rescinded the contract which provided for the $220,565.00? Why over the past four months when repeatedly asked in public BOE sessions did the Board cover up and refuse to tell Parsippany residents that the Superintendent was continuing to receive an annual salary of $220,565 thereby putting $3.6 million of state aid at risk? Why did the BOE lawyer, Mark Tabakin, in his letter, dated August 15,2011, to Dr. Serafino suggest that the Superintendent's annual salary was $212,00 when he had to have known that the Superintendent's annual salary was $220,565.00? Was that a deliberate attempt to mislead Dr. Serafino? Why is Mr. Tabakin still representing the BOE when, given his past advice to the BOE, he is now a conflicted position. Doesn't Weiner Lesniak LLP have another attorney available to give the BOE the independent advice it needs? Why has the Superintendent never been required to formally respond to the contract he was offered by the BOE in July when his prior contract was rescinded by the BOE? Who on the Board knew what and when did they know it with regard to the matters pertaining to the Superintendent's salary and contract since the BOE rescinded the prior contract in July? Bob Crawford
Diane Campbell October 27, 2011 at 01:42 PM
We were told that there were three attempts made to reach the County Superintendent but she was not responding …oddly enough, when Bob Crawford provided us with the information at the last BOE meeting and called the Board out on not sharing what’s been going on… the County Superintendent responds immediately. I can’t help but question if these attempts were really made. Isn’t it sad that we are so busy being scared that our schools are in danger of not making the grade and our children will most likely have to be taught to be little test takers and Mr. Seitz seems to be taking advantage of this situation. I am not here to argue if he has done a job worthy of a raise. I’m saying that if my boss told me that I would not be getting a raise this year due to cut backs, I have two options: I deal with it or I leave. I do NOT take the raise and hope no one notices. Where else would this be able to go on??!!
steve revette October 27, 2011 at 02:38 PM
I agree with Bob. Mark does not belong representing the board. I would like to know where the money to pay him came from. Obviously something had to have been cut.
John M October 27, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Another thought. We need full disclosure from all the BOE members about how many of their relatives are working fir the Parsippany school system and how they got in. Mr Calabria has 3 daughters and a daughter-in-law working in Parsippany, with 1 going to school to become a principle. Do these BOE members also vote for the raises of the teachers in the school system? Is this a conflict of interest? Just asking.
Mark October 27, 2011 at 03:33 PM
How embarrassing that this has gone on for so long.
gina s. October 27, 2011 at 04:03 PM
Board of Education Meeting Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 7:00PM Board of Education Building This is when the next BOE meeting is. It is very obvious that Seitz and the board do not have our best interests in mind when they do things. We need to be our children's advocates.
Jessica October 27, 2011 at 05:22 PM
John, you seem completely misinformed. Teachers within the district are currently working WITHOUT a contract which means working based on last year's salary, hence, no raises. But yes, the board members do have authority when it comes to the teacher salaries.
Mike Kertesz October 27, 2011 at 06:14 PM
I don't think they have a clue on there purpose!!! Lock And load! ... They must be something in the contract that states , if they are not up to a level of there duties they can be rejected from the position, including board members!! How about fraud!!!!
Ellen October 27, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Board Members have disclosed this at many meetings in the past. I am guessing you do not attend meeting (but are happy to throw stones at a good man) as if you did, you would also know that Dr. Calabria, as well as others ever effected, recuse themselves from the vote not only on the teachers but their supervisors. It is amazing people come to patch to just start trouble without facts.
Joe October 27, 2011 at 10:20 PM
Criminal charges should be brought up against the BOE. They are a bunch of thieves. Teachers were cut over a year ago. Aides in the district haven't received a raise in years. They don't get benefits. They are treated like crap and ignored by all. Long-term substitutes who attend parent conferences, make up lesson plans everyday,and responsible for grades and teaching children are being paid $95 a day. They could be teaching for a month, 3 months, or 6 months and only receive $95 a day. They are provided with hardly any direction and resources. The Parsippany BOE is unbelievably corrupted. Its disgusting. Someone needs to stand up and press criminal charges against these people. Where's the mayor and town council??? The governor needs to step up!!! People should be outside the board of Ed. office confronting these people!!!
Lillian Gola October 27, 2011 at 11:17 PM
I will be the first to say that I have never attended a Board of Education meeting. However, that is not necessary in this case when a salary was rescinded and the recipient is still receiving the salary...Has anyone who works in private industry every heard of anything like this? If anything, all we have heard and seen is layoffs and absorbing additional work of the people that have left. Raises are usually limited to 1-2% a year and in order to get the 2%, you must go through a rigorous performance review process. Has the BOE gone through a performance review process, has the superintendent? Keep on ignoring the mandate that you have your salary reduced and that should garner the attention of the governor's office. Then you, the principals and the teachers will be subject to scrutiny just like most people are subjected to in private industry. Tell us what you do to earn $220K, I would really love to know...
Joe October 27, 2011 at 11:35 PM
They vote when it provides an outcome they like. If you vote for my kids and I vote for your kids, isn't that a conflict of interest? You scratch my back, I scratch your back. Not voting against issues when you know already the outcome is going to be beneficial to your family, is that a conflict of interest????? Who's signing these checks, any how???? Remember, showing up at church every Sunday doesn't make you a saint!
Ellen October 28, 2011 at 12:13 AM
Yes, reviews are conducted, I know this data is old (but the most current I could find), everyone seems fixated on the amount but no one is jumping up to say it is what the market demands. We are the largest district in Morris and this database will show you he is not top of the pay chart ( http://php.app.com/appendixc/results.php?county=MORRIS&district=%25&name=%25&tfm_order=DESC&tfm_orderby=base)
Diane Campbell October 28, 2011 at 03:26 AM
Ellen, all I am saying is that when you are dealing with children and setting an example...if the County Super is telling you that the State Aid for the children is in jeapordy of being pulled, you have a decision to make. I don't want to go toe to toe with you, I know we have different views here. I really don't want to be disrespectful and I'm not attacking your viewpoint.... I just find it hard to believe that this is a battle worth fighting when our state aid is being threatened. I'm not even trying to argue if anyone thinks he deserves it or not...but rules are rules. If he wants to fight this...let him do it with his own money...not our children's educational funds.
parhome October 28, 2011 at 03:37 AM
What the market will sustain; how PTH can afford to pay this $ are not the points at all. This is illegal. This is sneaky. Wait until a student gets in some trouble and the parent uses Dr. Seitz and the Bd of Ed and in fact, the Mayor too, as an example.
Joe October 28, 2011 at 03:57 AM
Its the Modern day "Robin Hood" but in this case there is no Robin Hood and the BOE is the sheriff of Nottingham. The state asked more than once what seitz was making and the BOE didn't respond. They thought they could get away with it. Its sad. The BOE members should face criminal charges. Many people will push for this.
steve revette October 28, 2011 at 04:51 AM
Seitz just wasted his time. He filed a complaint with Cerf that came down from Christie. Cerf works for Christie. That's like me going to the district manager to voice fix something that come down from the Regional manager. Tabakian should have known what Serafino was going to say. I really hope Parsippany does not lose it's state aid.
gina s. October 28, 2011 at 10:30 AM
Well said diane
utoh October 28, 2011 at 01:43 PM
GREAT JOB! Christie.... LeRoy Seitz never responed when I wrote to tell him I couldn't collect $7 for class parties for the yr. from the children and families that pay his outragous salary. They just don't have it! How do you force people hurting in this economy to give outragous pay raises that are not justified? Show Seitz the door!
R.M. October 28, 2011 at 08:32 PM
The BOE is comprised of well-intentioned citizens who volunteer their time to contribute to a high quality education for the children of our town. They rely on the appointed legal council to advise them in matters such as these and in my opinion that is where the complete failure has occurred. Mr. Tabakin has led the BOE down this path and recovery seems unlikely without a protracted legal battle. The contract was rescinded 3 months ago and where are we? Back in the newspaper with the governor himself threatening to withhold state aid. Really? If this is the best we can do, it is time for a change! What are the options? Whose responsibility is it to consider those options? Now that Dr. Seitz’ contract has been rescinded and his original contract has ended, can’t the BOE replace him with an interim superintendent while they look for a permanent replacement? At least an interim superintendent can focus on the schools and the students instead of what his next move will be in his contract negotiation. Since last September, Seitz and his contract have been the focal point of this BOE and that needs to stop. It is time to get back to the business of the students of the PTH district. Enough is enough!! Dr. Seitz, at this point the best thing you can do to serve our district is to step down. We appreciate your years of service, but you and the business of your contract have become a detriment to our community and the students are suffering because of it.
c.b.c56 October 28, 2011 at 10:54 PM
Seitz will need to step down. He has a sense of entitlement when it comes to his pockets. An intelligent person would have stepped down long, long time ago. Instead, we have spent thousands in legal fees -thanks to Tabakin's legal advice- trying to battle the state on Seitz's behalf. The BOE- lead by incompetent Mancuso, is to blame for this. They should have never negotiated a contract 10 months prior to its expiration date. That was plainly illegal. Now, we are where we are. Seitz needs to go and soon. Man up and do the right thing for our students. We do not need his services any longer. He has lost credibility and our community's respect. He has caused enough damage to our community and our reputation that will last for years to come. Christie and us can help him pack. No one will cry for his departure. Actually, there will be parties all over Parsippany.
c.b.c56 October 28, 2011 at 11:03 PM
and beyond. His reputation of one totally disinterested for the fate of good teachers harassed and bullied by his incompetent principals will follow him everywhere. He was paid top $$$$$ to sit at his desk and do absolutely nothing except to collect a hefty paycheck and fringe benefits. Our schools are in dire academic position because of his ineptitude and reckless indifference in matters that he should have stepped in. I wonder who will be next??????
vincent October 31, 2011 at 01:26 PM
SEITZ needs to redeem himself and look into why the teachers in their 3rd year were let go last year. He needs to do his job and investigate the seriousness of the unjustified, politically dictated, prejudiced actions taken by his immature, incompetent, unqualified principals in his schools. He needs to get involved and ask questions. He cannot cover himself by saying: "it is their decision". Everyone needs to be accountable to another. Only by doing this he can show us that somehow he is doing his job and be a respected leader.
vincent October 31, 2011 at 01:38 PM
He needs to re-hire those teachers that did a fantastic job with our students. Its never too late Seitz to show that you can correct huge mistakes that took place under your tenure. He takes a great man to acknowledge and therefore correct a wrong decision. Show us what you are made of.
utoh October 31, 2011 at 02:03 PM
he won't
vincent October 31, 2011 at 06:15 PM
@utoh- have faith! Seitz, is a "good man" in the words of someone... he will need to look into it. He cannot take his "recommendations" to the board without having looked at the person's file. Dismiss a person just "because" . Whom are we kidding? Education should not work that way. The world comprises of other people other than those polically connected or submissive. Everyone is responsible for their action and the principals are not immune to scrutiny. Actually, they are the ones that need more scrutiny. A few of them need to be investigated actually. As I said before, a good leader is responsible for ALL is subordinates -from the lowest person to the highest- Seitz HAS, MUST look into what has happened last year. He has no other way to redeem himself. Karma is a bitch!

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