For Release: June 10, 2004
Commissioner Renders Decision in Asbury Park Tenure Matter
Commissioner of Education William L. Librera has adopted the decision by the Office of Administrative Law regarding Asbury Park Superintendent Antonio Lewis, dismissing tenure charges brought by the Asbury Park Board of Education against Dr. Lewis and ordering the Board (BOE) to reinstate Lewis to his position of superintendent with full pay from the first day of his suspension.
Commissioner Librera noted, however, that, although this result is compelled by law, nothing in his decision "precludes the Board, in its discretion, from filing new tenure charges in compliance with the Tenure Employees Hearing Law."
The Commissioner concurred with the April 6 finding of Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) John R. Tassini that the Board did not follow the proper legal procedures requiring notice and an opportunity to show improvement before removing Dr. Lewis.
"The Commissioner is in full accord with the ALJ that the BOEs Count One, alleging that the respondent failed to properly and effectively lead, supervise and/or manage the Asbury Park school system constitutes a charge of inefficiency," the Commissioners decision stated. "Consequently, inasmuch as the Board did not fulfill its obligation, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:6-11, of providing respondent written notice of the inefficiency and according him 90 days to improve his performance, Count One of the Boards charges must be dismissed."
"With respect to Count Two of the Boards charges, charging respondent with unbecoming conduct for knowingly entering into an invalid contract, the Commissioner, in fulfillment of his responsibility pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:6-16 and N.J.A.C. 6A:3-5.5, has reviewed this charge and upon such review, has determined that the charge, even if true, is, standing alone, deemed insufficient to warrant respondents dismissal or reduction in salary and, therefore, Charge Two must be dismissed," the Commissioners decision stated.
Copies of the Commissioners decision and Judge Tassinis initial decision are available from the New Jersey Department of Education Office of Public Information, 609-292-1126 or online at the departments website at http://www.nj.gov/njded/legal/commissioner/2004/jun/234-04.pdf.