Legal Battle Between Former Brick BOE President, Superintendent Continues

Years-long case still ongoing, though state education commissioner renders a decision

Patch File Photo: Daniel Nee
Patch File Photo: Daniel Nee
A year-long legal battle between a former Brick Board of Education president and a former superintendent of schools that has generated tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees is entering its next round.

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.

Chief Wahoo July 17, 2014 at 11:12 PM
No one ever answers why garbage pick up costs more for a $600,000 house than a $400,000 house ?????......it would cost everyone the same if it was a private company !!!!.....$13,000 a year is $130,000 in only 10 short years.....you are getting rocked and rolled by the public takers.....you will all eventually fall off the hamster wheel , it's just a matter of When ......the seed corn is dwindling
Rock.n.Roll July 18, 2014 at 08:45 AM
You are right chief, Well I am on the verge off falling of the wheel, as when my home gets completed (lost everything from Sandy and had to re-build), they are lurking in the shadows waiting to hit me hard with a new house on taxes, which we are building small to help keep down the taxes, but soon will sell and get out. The problem will be selling a nice little place which has a big price tag on taxes.
Melinda Murray July 18, 2014 at 09:31 AM
Mr. Smith I agree. Originally the man in the transportation department was getting about 68 k a year. We created a position for this man and gave the transportation job to the ghost{his nickname by the drivers}. But not before changing the job description so he would qualify. Then we started him at 85 k a year. We have many problems with transportation and nothing seems to be done about it. The ghost just got another raise. Know hes making over 100,000. a year plus benefits. I was told that" just because someone doesn't do their job Mrs. Murray, doesn't mean you can fire them. " Your school taxes at work.
Melinda Murray July 18, 2014 at 09:52 AM
Let me just say this was the old board who originally changed the job description so this guy would fit it.
Mr. Smith July 21, 2014 at 08:53 PM
But the current board keeps renewing and giving raises.


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