PERTH AMBOY – Janine Caffrey sent an email to school staff members on Wednesday following the Board of Education’s fourth vote to put her on paid administrative leave in the past two years, calling it “a very sad night for our community.”
“You now have no superintendent,” she wrote. “Unfortunately some members of our community have exchanged public meetings for political stunts and disrupted our schools. I know you will all continue to focus on our children and do what you do best. Thank you for all you do every day and I hope to see you soon.”
Caffrey and school board members have battled for the past two years, but that seemed to be nearing an end in August when she announced that she would not reapply for her position when her contract expired at the end of the current school year.
School board members voted to place Caffrey on paid administrative leave three times last year, but state officials overturned the moves each time. The board had accused the superintendent of insubordination and damaging staff morale, though Caffrey said those allegations were baseless.
Caffrey angered many high school students and parents in June by changing the traditional evening graduation ceremony to a morning start time without seeking input, forcing some parents to choose between missing a day’s pay or an important moment in their child’s life.
The superintendent was also criticized for re-instating a school secretary who was eventually convicted in municipal court for selling alcoholic beverages to parents and school staff members on school property.
Caffrey claimed that an internal investigation found no evidence supporting the charge although she was under suspension when the crimes were committed.
Dr. Vivian C. Rodriguez, the assistant superintendent who was the interim superintendent during Caffrey’s absence, took measures to discipline the secretary, a school principal and another staff member who was involved.
After state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf overruled the local elected officials who suspended her, Caffrey exacted retribution on Rodriguez, assigning her to offices in an abandoned school and later forcing her to resign.
Another school secretary filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against the district, alleging that she was retaliated against when she informed her supervisors about the illegal alcohol sales.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!