CONFLICTS CONTINUE: Is Lyndhurst becoming the De facto “Bellehurst” Regional School system?
Are you OK with the current Superintendent of the Belleville Public Schools calling the hiring and policy shots as a so-called independent “consultant” for Lyndhurst Public Schools?
State Education Monitor Tom Egan certainly is OK with it, even if it appears a blatant conflict of interest for both Belleville’s Superintendent, Dr. Richard Tomko, as well as Mr. Egan, who, after local school financial deficits, was empowered to hire, fire and oversee the finances in both Belleville and Lyndhurst Public Schools by the NJ Department of Education.
As a result, Dr. Richard Tomko is beholden to Mr. Egan for budgeting in Belleville while he is supposedly acting “independently” in his recommendations as a no-bid contract educational “consultant” in Lyndhurst.
And the conflicts just begin there.
In June of 2017, Mr. Egan also OKed the Belleville Board of Education to give Dr. Tomko, the then very recently hired Superintendent of Schools there, a new contract that allowed for a 14% pay raise.
This was unnecessary largesse in my opinion, as Dr. Tomko had 1 year left on his existing 2015 contract in 2017. And it was especially tone deaf on Mr. Egan’s part, with Belleville Schools being over $4 million in debt while Mr. Egan enriched Dr. Tomko ahead of schedule at public expense. It gave the appearance of near dictatorial arrogance and indifference to the taxpayers of Belleville.
Thanks to Mr. Egan, Dr. Tomko will earn $203,000 for his full-time job managing the approximately 600 employees of the struggling Belleville Public Schools; the students of which come from families found near the bottom of the economic rung.
READ ABOUT DR. TOMKO’S 14% RAISE:
Also, thanks to Mr. Egan, Dr. Tomko makes more off impoverished Belleville ($203,000) for his “full-time” job as their small town schools’ Superintendent, than the Governor of New Jersey earns ($175,000) or the Governor of New York earns ($179,000).
$203,000 a year in a local government job is a lot for Dr. Tomko to be thankful to Mr. Egan for, and sadly it isn’t all Dr. Tomko has to be thankful to Mr. Egan for…
On March 25, 2019, Mr. Egan approved (and I imagine arranged) the Lyndhurst Board of Education giving his Belleville subordinate, Dr. Tomko, and Dr. Tomko’s wife (of Tomko & Tomko) a “no-bid” contract to take on planning the future of our public schools in Lyndhurst, starting with Dr. Tomko’s supposed “non-political” search for a Lyndhurst Middle School Principal.
At that same March 25, 2019 Lyndhurst BOE meeting, Mr. Egan gave a report that promised the new Lyndhurst Middle School Principal would be hired by January 2020. This principal has not yet been hired, or as far as the public knows even been interviewed by the full Lyndhurst Board of Education. The next BOE meeting is January 28, 2020. It is the last opportunity for Mr. Egan to keep his March 25, 2019 commitment to hire a Middle School Principal by January 2020.
READ EGAN’S REPORT FROM THE MARCH 25, 2019 LYNDHURST BOE MINUTES:
So, if Mr. Egan follows through on this hiring in January 2020, how is this so-called “non-political” Middle School Principal being hired? Is this mystery person going to be recommended to the Lyndhurst BOE by Mr. Egan’s seemingly conflicted consultant, Dr. Tomko, at the very last minute at the end of this month at the January 28 meeting? If so, this is TEN full months after Dr. Tomko, who is under Mr. Egan’s financial thumb, was given a “no-bid” contract by the Lyndhurst BOE to “independently” find the best candidates to be considered for the Middle School Principal position BY THE Lyndhurst BOE.
They had TEN months, why the last minute shot gun wedding?
Under Mr. Egan’s rule, the Lyndhurst Board of Education appears that it’s being sold a new Middle School Principal the way an auto dealer on Route 46 might try to sell you a used car; see it fast and buy it on the spot to get the deal, no thinking or comparison permitted.
Or is the Lyndhurst BOE now simply reduced to be a rubber stamp for Mr. Egan? Is the Egan/Tomko act in reality a full take-over of the Lyndhurst Schools by the State, masquerading as just being financially monitored by the State through Mr. Egan with the local Lyndhurst BOE pretending to be in some control, when they’re not?
It certainly appears so. And if it is so, Mr. Egan should tell Lyndhurst officially and cut the crap, so we don’t have to endure the charade of paying for Mr. Egan’s associate as a consultant, so Mr. Egan can pretend to appear once removed from the hiring process.
I think Mr. Egan is making a mockery of the search process in Lyndhurst, arranging the hiring of Dr. Tomko as a cover in an obvious attempt to manipulate our Board of Education members into believing this is all a legit process that Lyndhurst controls.
Let’s see WHO Mr. Egan and his “independent” consultant, Dr. Tomko, try to arrange giving this Middle School job to, and HOW quickly they attempt to do it by perhaps shoving it down Lyndhurst Trustees throats at the last minute on January 28.
I suspect Dr. Tomko’s “independent” recommendation won’t be too independent of Mr. Egan, as this Lyndhurst Middle School Principal hiring process mirrors exactly how Mr. Egan hired Dr. Tomko in Belleville; by using another independent “consultant” to suggest the hiring of Dr. Tomko over the objections of a Belleville BOE member who called Dr. Tomko too “political”.
Dr. Tomko was a Democratic candidate for state Senate in 2013, receiving donations from those employed by the public schools Dr. Tomko ran. Was that ethical? Dr. Tomko also had served Mr. Egan in Elmwood Park where Mr. Egan was also the State Monitor prior to Mr. Egan bringing Dr. Tomko with him to Belleville (and now Lyndhurst).
READ HOW DR. TOMKO WAS FIRST HIRED IN BELLEVILLE:
Does Mr. Egan really need an Ethics class to grasp that this practice at best looks really wrong? I believe it more than appears wrong, it is wrong.
Has Dr. Tomko asked the NJ Department of Education’s Commission on Ethics (of which Tomko is a member) for an advisory opinion of his holding these very overlapping positions in which Tomko is obligated to the same man (Egan), one as a school’s Superintendent hired under Mr. Egan and another at the same time as a No-Bid Independent Consultant hired under Mr. Egan?
If Dr. Tomko has failed to request and receive an official advisory opinion from the Educational Ethics Commission permitting his doing both jobs under Mr. Egan (from which he should have recused himself from participating in the ethics discussion, if there ever was one), it’s probably time to formally request the New Jersey Attorney General give an ethics opinion to Lyndhurst on this, before the Lyndhurst Board of Education just takes Mr. Egan and Dr. Tomko’s word about whomever they pull out of their collective hat for Middle School Principal.
If the Lyndhurst BOE won’t ask for an official Ethics opinion, the Lyndhurst Mayor and Commissioners should.
Is anyone representing Lyndhurst here?