Dr. LeRoy Seitz, The Parsippany-Troy Hills Schools Superintendent who Governor Christie singled out last week as “the new poster boy for all that’s wrong with a public school system that is being dictated by greed” is suddenly in the middle of a ‘point-counterpoint’ reminiscent of the Schundler fiasco.
On November 9, the school board voted on a five-year contract that would give Seitz more than Governor Christie’s proposed salary cap in each of those next five years. The cap ( which tops out Superintendent salaries at $175,000 per year ) was first proposed last July, but would not take effect until February at the earliest. Three public hearings are needed first.
The County Superindent, Kathleeen Serafino, who needs to sign off on the Seitz contract claims she never did so. calls to her office were referred to the State DOE which says there is no clear approval of that contract in writing. That appears to be true. No final go-ahead letter was ever received by the school board.
But people familiar with the situation say something doesn’t quite add up here. They insist that a “good faith negotiation” took place over several weeks and not once did Serafino or her Chief Negotiator Ralph Goodwin ever object to a salary that exceeded the proposed cap. In fact, the Superintendent ( who serves as the Christie Admin’s rep in the Seitz contract negotiation ) never even brought up the salary until a tersely worded letter popped up on DOE’s website yesterday saying the contract needs to be rescinded.
Apparently there is a trail of email correspondence leading up to the vote. Now, I have not seen these emails, but someone familiar with them read me their contents. On October 27 for example, two weeks before the board vote, Seitz asked if there would be a problem with his contract being approved on November 9th. Serafino responded “thanks, and good luck.”
On the 29th, an email from Goodwin said Serafino would approve the contract in writing when she returned from vacation which was after the vote. But how could she not have known that the vote was scheduled for November 9th? From what people involved in the negotiations say, the official approval was merely a formality. Another email from Goodwin on November 3 also did not raise any concern about the terms of the salary.
Finally, at least one source claims there was a face-to-face meeting on October 26th between Seitz, Serafino and others where Serafino said she could not sign off on a flat rate salary of $225,000 per year for five years, but she could approve 2% yearly increases. Seitz is currently making $212,000.
So, if there was a problem, there appears to be evidence that no one involved in the negotiations said a word about it until after the Governor made his comments.
As far as I know, people may be feeding me falsehoods. I suppose we can wait and see what those emails say when they are publicly released. ( And they will eventually be made public )