PERTH AMBOY — The Board of Education is expected to appoint a city resident to replace Kurt Rebovich, Jr. as a school board member when the panel convenes at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 20, at the Perth Amboy High School Auditorium.
Rebovich was forced to resign because he accepted a job with the New Jersey School Boards Association, a taxpayer funded organization that created an ethical conflict with his service on the Board of Education.
According to the resolution approved at a special meeting on Monday, Board Secretary Derek Jess received correspondence from Rebovich resigning on Nov. 16, but he failed to notified the other school board members until Nov. 27, causing a delay in the appointment of a replacement.
Sources in the school district say Jess intentionally delayed the process because the current majority of members wants to fire Superintendent Janine Caffrey and he hoped to hold out for newly-elected William Ortiz to take office in January.
The board directed Jess to publish advertisements in two newspapers, El Diario/La Prensa and the Home News Tribune, requesting qualified candidates to file letters of interest along with their credentials.
Rebovich has been among the minority of board members who support Caffrey, an ideology motivated steward who has sought to fire tenured teachers, change policies that insulate school staff from political influences and turn over more public money to private business interests.
School privatization is a highly controversial component of the Republican Party’s agenda that has been embraced by some neo-liberal Democrats. Critics says every child deserves a quality education and Perth Amboy is the beneficiary of $180 million a year in state funding due to the Supreme Court’s endorsement of that approach in the series of decisions handed down since the original Abbott v. Burke ruling in 1985.
At least one observer who believes Jess violated his duty by failing to inform members about the vacancy said the Board Secretary should be fired along with Caffrey.
“The administration of Republican Gov. Chris Christie intervened three times to overturn board votes to fire Caffrey and Derek Jess acted against the public interest by failing to notify elected members of this vacancy on a timely basis,” said James J. Devine, a Democratic strategist who has advised numerous candidates in the city. “Action is required to remove the taint of politics from Perth Amboy classrooms.”
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