Monroe school board member admits to ethics violation

Staff Writer

MONROE – A Board of Education member, Anthony Prezioso, admitted to engaging in conduct that violates the state School Ethics Act and received a reprimand from the state School Ethics Commission.

According to the settlement agreement with the board of education, Prezioso took responsibility for e-mailing a staff member on Sept. 28, 2013 to solicit support for a political candidate. Several other allegations levied in the March 2014 complaint were withdrawn under the settlement agreement.

Prezioso did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

“The commission should find that transmitting a partisan, political e-mail intended to influence a teaching staff member employed by the district was an improper use of [Prezioso’s] position as a board mem- ber,” the Board of Education (BOE) complaint reads. “[Prezioso’s] action was not taken in an effort to ‘support and protect’ the teaching staff member; rather, [his] alleged action was intended to influence this teaching staff member to support a particular political candidate.”

Prezioso, who is seeking reelection to the board in November, came under fire by the board last year after allegedly making a comment to a former board member, Ira Tessler, in which he referenced a Nazi salute and said “you’re Jewish, you shouldn’t raise your hand like that.” That incident was also outlined in the complaint, but withdrawn as part of the settlement agreement.

A separate complaint filed by Tessler in response to that incident was dismissed.

In addition, Prezioso was accused by the Board of Education of releasing confidential information and making personnel recommendations to administrators, which moved 6-2, with one abstention, to file the complaint against Prezioso in March 2014.

In an Aug. 24 settlement agreement approved by Office of Administrative Law Judge Jesse Strauss, Prezioso admitted to fault in regard to paragraph 9 of the complaint, which outlined the allegation of soliciting political support.

The School Ethics Commission censured Prezioso for those actions and the remainder of the complaint was dropped.

As part of the settlement agreement, Prezioso agreed to direct future requests for district information through the administration instead of directly from staff; keep confidential district information secret; refrain from making comments to staff or members of the public regarding board action prior to consulting with the board; refrain from initiating personnel-related recommendations to the administration; and to address board members, staff and members of the public in a civil manner.

According to the agreement, Prezioso will also be required to complete a sensitivity training session.