PERTH AMBOY – Acting State Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf has overturned the Perth Amboy Board of Education’s April 25 vote to place Superintendent Janine Caffrey on paid administrative leave.
After school board president Samuel Lebreault read a 22-point list of complaints, the nine member board voted 4-0 to take action against Caffrey at its meeting on April 25. Four of the five members who didn’t vote cited conflicts of interest because relatives work for the district.
The school board believes that Caffrey acted inappropriately and with bad judgement by speaking to the media and the public about issues before consulting with the school board, failed to seek board approval for significant program changes, and improperly terminated a tenured administrator, among other complaints.
Caffrey has characterized the school board’s accusations as “baseless charges.”
Cerf ruled that a majority of the nine board members must vote to place the superintendent on administrative leave for the action to be valid. He also offered a mediator to help resolve issues between the school board and Caffrey.
The board did take a second vote on whether to place Caffrey on administrative leave on Monday night, after Cerf had closed his consideration of the matter. This time, the board invoked a “doctrine of necessity” to allow all members to vote. The board voted 6-0 to place Caffrey on paid administrative leave, with three members not voting because they said the meeting had been called without proper notice.
“If the board believes any subsequent action alters this result, it will have to make such argument by way of a motion,” Cerf said.