Superintendent Janine Caffrey, seen here with Republican Councilman Kenneth Gonzalez at a recent Wilda Diaz campaign fundraiser, has been fired for playing politics with the city’s public education system.
PERTH AMBOY — A five month battle to remove Superintendent Janine Caffrey has come to a close unless Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s education commissioner once again overturns the elected Board of Education (BOE) members that originally gave her the job.
Caffrey has been placed on suspension and officially notified that her contract will not be renewed when her term expires. She is expected to be replaced by Dr. Vivian Rodriguez during her indefinite administrative leave.
At a special BOE meeting Saturday, five members attending unanimously voted to give Caffrey the axe because she has waged a campaign of terror against school district employees and board members, while advocating policies that would undermine free public education.
Caffrey falsely accused school board President Samuel Lebreault of requesting free lunch for his children, but state Attorney General’s office investigators found that he properly filed his family’s application for the federal program showing that his income exceeded eligibility limits.
The disgraced Superintendent also leveled bogus ethics complaints against four other board members who voted to suspend her from the $177,500 job.
Officials expect the school ethics commission to dismiss all of Caffrey’s complaints on Sept. 25 based on a lack of credible evidence.
Caffrey’s termination is a political blow to Mayor Wilda Diaz, who is locked in a hotly contested campaign for re-election with challenger Billy Delgado.
Diaz supported Caffrey in her fight with the school board. The Mayor told citizens to vote against the school budget in 2009 and she supports Republican efforts to establish tuition vouchers, which divert public education money to private and parochial schools.
Lebreault, Obdulia Gonzalez, Israel Varela, Milady Tejeda and Janelle Rodriguez are the board members who voted to oust Caffery based on a long list of complaints.
Kenneth Puccio, who previously voted to suspend Caffrey, was not at the meeting, which was boycotted by Dianne Roman, a Diaz administration employee who formerly served as city administrator under disgraced former Mayor Joe Vas.
Also not in attendance were Kurt Rebovich, Jr. who is expected to resign from the school board based on a conflict of interest, and Mark Carvajal, who abandoned the majority, abstaining after he urged members to expel Caffrey then opposing a later effort to get rid of her.