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.