Melindo A. Persi sued the district and filed a school ethics complaint against Woska after he alleged Woska, in April 2008, unilaterally filed a Rice notice against Persi before he was sworn in as board president and proceeded to lead an effort to oust Persi. Other board members, it was alleged, were not consulted before the notice was given.
A Rice notice is issued to a public employee if his or her employment is to be discussed at an official meeting of a public governing body.
Ultimately, the board, led by Woska at the time, dismissed Persi and then refused to pay out the remainder of his contract, including a specific clause that required 30 days notice before any such dismissal. Persi was replaced with Mary Ann Ceres at the time.
Persi claimed Woska, who already held a board seat, surreptitiously worked to have a Rice notice issued to the him even though Woska had yet to be sworn in as the board's president.
The state School Ethics Commission ruled in favor of Persi, saying Woska's actions "not only had the potential to compromise the Board, but, arguably, did compromise the Board in that it set off a chain of events which resulted in litigation both before the Commissioner of Education and before the Commission."
The commission ruled Woska should be censured.
But Woska – whose term has long been over – kept fighting the decision, eventually taking the Persi case to court, and on
In an opinion published Dec. 11, 2013, an appellate court sent the case back to the commissioner's office for clarification over whether a board member can unilaterally ask for a Rice notice to be issued.
On June 27, David C. Hespe, acting Commissioner of Education, rendered his ruling, essentially agreeing with Persi that Woska lacked the power to unilaterally issue the notice.
"Accordingly, the commissioner finds that a single board member is without authority to direct issuance of a Rice notice to the chief school administrator of a district," the decision said. "Rather, that authority lies with the president of a district board of education or a majority of the full membership of a district board of education."
Hespe has now ordered the case to remanded, once again, back to the full School Ethics Commission for a final determination.
Persi, thus far, has funded his own legal effort. Woska, though no longer a board member, has had his legal bills submitted to the Brick school district's insurance carrier. Persi is being represented by Toms River attorney Robert Shea in the matter, while Woska has been represented by the Brick law firm of Montenegro Thompson and Montenegro, the firm which represented the school district when Woska's ticket held a board majority.