Two board members want answers on school scandal

Guest Column • Aimee Szilagyi Gene Maeroff

Based on what we have learned about a scandal unfolding in our school system, we will file open records requests as private citizens who happen to be members of the Board of Education of Edison Township. We want to obtain information that has not been made public.


We have been contacted by people in Edison who are concerned about the scandal that last month became the focus of news stories involving what township officials called the abuse, illegal use, and resale of prescription drugs. We gather from many confidential sources that there is more to come. The public wants to know what is happening, and so do we. Though we are members of the Board of Education, we have received little information from the school system, and we want answers.

We have learned that the investigation involves not only the Edison Police Department but also the FBI and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

We wonder why — after the school system was reportedly informed months ago that the police had recovered items stolen by school board employees from students’ lockers at Edison High School, and that the items could be reclaimed — students and their families were apparently not told by the school system that they could get these items back. If this is true, no one in the school system told us about this at the time, and we have only in recent days heard that these items apparently can be retrieved. The items — iPods, jewelry, and the like — apparently are worth thousands of dollars.

We wonder about other information that has come to us:

Several subpoenas requesting purchase orders for tools and materials, covering a three-year period, seem to have been issued to the school system some time ago. If this is so, why were some of us on the school board not told that these purchase orders were subpoenaed?

We understand — though never learned of it from school officials — that apparently a list of employees suspected to be involved with drugs was given to the school system by the police and that the police apparently recommended that those on the list be tested for drugs.

If this did, in fact, happen, why were all of us on the school board not told of the existence of this list?

Why were all of those on the list apparently not tested?

Why was apparently only one person — and no one else — sent to rehab out of state, at taxpayer expense?

Why did some of us on the board not find out until a month afterward — and we learned it from reading the newspapers, not from school officials — that another of our employees was arrested for a drug violation. The police apparently told school officials of this arrest at the time.

At least $300,000 in tax dollars was spent from the school system’s health care coverage to support the involvement of school employees in drug activities, according to town officials. We had to learn this from the newspapers. We were told at our last school board meeting —after a citizen in the audience raised the question — that it wouldn’t have been possible to discern this pattern because the school system’s health plan is operated by the state. Yet, the township’s business manager is said to have determined that this had happened.

Furthermore, the school system’s prescription plan was not placed under state auspices until September 2008. Was information available before that time to ferret out this problem? no one in authority been held accountable for these many problems, even though there are four levels of supervision above those already arrested?

We are concerned that among the Edison police officers demoted by the new town administration this month are apparently some who have been involved in the investigation of wrongdoing in the school system. We hope that this in no way compromises the ongoing investigation. We will call on state and federal law enforcement officials to monitor the situation involving these police officers and its potential impact on the investigation.

Finally, the search for a superintendent must be put on hold for the time being. This is no time to make a long-term appointment of the most important employee in the school system. Many questions should be answered before this can happen.

T he dark clouds that hang over the school system are an affront to the students, parents, taxpayers, instructional staff, and honest members of the non-instructional staff. This school system has a lot for which to answer. And the taxpayers have every right to demand that their hardearned money be spent with integrity.

Aimee Szilagyi
Gene I. Maeroff