Employees responsible for board’s predicament

The Freehold Regional High School District Board of Education has been directed by the state of New Jersey Commission on Higher Education to "bring to our attention any specific instances in which school district employees may be in violation of state law."

The board should do everything within its power to comply with the directive issued by Jane Oates, the executive director of the commission.

A school district that has made news for all the right reasons over the years — the achievements of its students — is staggering under the flurry of punches it has taken in recent weeks.

The latest body blow to the reeling FRHSD is the Commission on Higher Education’s order that Superintendent of Schools James Wasser, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Donna Evangelista and Frank Tanzini, a retired assistant superintendent of schools, must cease using the title of "Dr." in their professional capacity.

All three administrators obtained advanced degrees from Breyer State University, an online institution of dubious repute. That they have now been ordered to stop using the title "Dr." by a state commission that determined that Breyer State does not comply with New Jersey accreditation law is a very serious finding.

Board President Patricia Horvath has now been asked to determine if any other district employees hold questionable academic credentials. The advanced degrees carry an increase in salary and the higher salaries will eventually result in a higher pension upon retirement.

Frankly, it will be embarrassing for the board members to have to conduct such a review of the district’s employees, but this is a situation that has been caused by employees. It is up to the board to determine if promotions and raises based on dubious credentials warrant an employee’s dismissal.

An editorial this newspaper published on Aug. 13 stated the following: "Whether they want to admit it or not, the members of the Freehold Regional High School District Board of Education and several of the district’s administrators now have a significant credibility problem. The credibility issue stems from the advanced degrees that at least three administrators … received from Breyer State University."

A couple of other groups have also lost credibility in this matter.

The district’s six principals were represented by one of their own at the board’s July 28 meeting. The representative’s statement that evening was, "It is unfortunate that hard-working superintendents seem to be the target these days. Ours has been nothing but wonderful."

Perhaps the principals should have withheld comment until the Commission on Higher Education had investigated the matter. Their unfettered support of Wasser casts them as indentured servants.

We would like to know what the six FRHSD principals really think about this situation. We know there is no chance that parents and students will ever get an honest answer to that question.

Also on July 28, a representative of the New Jersey Education Association called the investigation into the administrators’ doctorate degrees a political witchhunt. Does the NJEA still believe that, given the findings of the Commission on Higher Education?

The people in charge of the Freehold Regional High School District have a lot of work to do to regain the trust of parents, students and taxpayers. The people who are footing the district’s $175 million budget may quickly be reaching the point of being fed up with phony degrees and selfserving comments that fail to address the problem and only seek to keep people in their wellpaid, well-benefitted positions.