Taxpayers Funding Former BOE President's Defense

Daniel Woska is defending a complaint filed by former schools superintendent Melindo A. Persi

Brick taxpayers are footing the bill for the defense of a former Board of Education president over an ethics complaint filed by a former schools superintendent.

Daniel Woska is fending off a by former interim schools superintendent Melindo A. Persi, officials confirmed. Woska is being represented in the matter by the law firm of Montenegro, Thompson, Montenegro & Genz, the firm that formerly represented the school district. The school board unanimously approved the representation at its March 29 regular meeting, the same night the 2011-12 proposed school budget was introduced.

But the representation of Woska came to light at the board's Sept. 15 meeting, when a resident asked why Montenegro's law firm was still billing the school district, even after the new board, elected April 27, hired new legal counsel – the firm of Berry, Sahradnik, Kotzas and Benson. A board attorney said taxpayers are obligated to fund Woska's representation in the matter.

"The school board was obligated, under the indemnification clause, because this happened when he was part of the school board, to provide him with a defense," said Robert D. Budesa, an attorney with the current firm representing the district. Indemnification laws provide for the defense of school board members when they are the subject of a complaint as part of their official duties.

When questioned about concerns over the cost of Woska's representation, Budesa said to his knowledge, Montenegro's firm is "doing what they feel is professionally appropriate to represent Mr. Woska."

The board paid $3,309 in legal fees to the Montenegro firm at the Sept. 15 meeting, fees which Business Administrator James Edwards said included charges left over from when the firm represented the board.

The crux of Persi's complaints against Woska center around his dismissal as superintendent in April 2008, when a board made up of several new members voted to oust Persi at its reorganization meeting. Persi alleges that Woska, who already sat on the board, instructed the assistant board secretary to issue him a Rice notice, a notification given to a public employee whose employment status will be discussed at a meeting, when he was not authorized to do so. Persi's attorney, Robert Shea, argued in legal documents that Woska, who was not yet the board's president, did not inform currently seated board members about the notice in violation of ethics laws.

Persi also alleges in his complaint that Woska surreptitiously discussed his removal as superintendent with then-Assistant Superintendent Mary Ann Ceres, and intentionally planned to have Ceres take the superintendent position, also in violation of ethics laws. At the reorganization meeting where Persi was relieved of his duties, the new board voted to replace him with Ceres.

The state School Ethics Commission decided on June 29 that Persi can pursue complaints against Woska. Persi said, in an e-mail, that a hearing in the case has been scheduled for Jan. 24, 2012.

Reality September 21, 2011 at 12:56 PM
The BOE (i.e., the Brick taxpayer) is paying Montenegro's law firm. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Why isn't the BOE recouping the money paid to Montenegro's law firm while they were legal counsel to the Board in April 2008 when Mr. Persi was ILLEGALLY fired?
BW September 21, 2011 at 01:33 PM
BS! Woska should pay for his own screw ups. I dont know about you but I am sick and tired of the crap the BOE pulls. Going back 30 Years, the BOE has been a bloody joke.
joseph September 21, 2011 at 02:44 PM
I think the important question should be; why did the business administrator take direction against Mr. Persi and send him a notice directed by Mr. Woska who was not Board President? The business administrator holds his own license and from what I am told was the president of is business adminstrator's association at the time he took instructions from Woska. They all seem to be in it together, not caring about the taxpayers. Why is this business adminstrator still here? It seems to me that if he did not take direction from Woska, this whole mess never could have happened! Get rid of him
Vinnie September 21, 2011 at 03:58 PM
And I thought we're suppose to take care of our children
Sean Conneamhe September 21, 2011 at 09:53 PM
Looks like a lot of work for a lot of lawyers.


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