Wednesday, July 6, 2016

GEHR School Board Answers Public Concerns on Oakcrest Principal by Remaining Silent and Not Voting

Joe Carruth
Credit: Shore News
After a two-hour long Donaldson hearing that was held on July 5th, Greater Egg Harbor Regional School Board led by Board President Carol Houck remained silent by opting not to vote on overriding the Superintendent's recommendation to not offer former Oakcrest Principal Joe Carruth a renewal in contract.

Superintendent John Keenan recommended that Carruth not receive a new contract for unknown personnel reasons. At Carruth's request the hearing was held in public where over thirty teachers, parents, students, elected officials and residents spoke in support of Carruth. 

Chip Kraybill of the NJPSA represented Carruth at the hearing. Kraybill outlined what was a great start of the year for Carruth when his employment took an unexpected unanswered turn. 

Many students and parents described Carruth as a leader, friend and a principal that made Oakcrest High School a safe place to be. 

None of the Board members including Superintendent John Keenan spoke at the hearing.  All questions to the board were directed to the Board Solicitor Louis Greco, Esq. who stated, "the Board ultimately makes the decision to accept the Superintendent's recommendation." 

However, according to the rules that govern Donaldson Hearings provided by the Board Solicitor, "the board can override the CSA's recommendation not to renew, and can vote to offer the employee a contract."

According to those same regulations,"the board is not obligated to take a vote after the informal appearance (Donaldson hearing.) If the board does not vote, and the CSA has made a recommendation not to renew, the CSA's recommendation not to renew will stand."

In this case, the Board voted to go into private executive session to deliberate which was publicly disputed by several people, including the Publisher of this website as a violation of the Open Public Meetings Act since Carruth requested his personnel discussion to be public. The Board left the meeting under opposition and scrutiny only to return 10-minutes later stating they did not hold executive session and came back to the public only to vote to adjourn the meeting.

Since a vote on Carruth's employment did not occur the Board now must notify the employee within three-days following the informal hearing of the Board's decision. It appears the silence of the Board was the ultimate decision to not address the public appeals and further affirm the dismissal of Carruth from his post. After the meeting Carruth stated, "I am looking at all legal options available to me."

Galloway Mayor Don Purdy addressed the Board Solicitor regarding his behavior towards the residents, parents and most importantly the students. Purdy described the Solicitor's behavior as disrespectful and stated the Board was making a mockery of the School District. The Board Solicitor later apologized to Mayor Purdy after the meeting.

Purdy stated the only way to change is to vote the Board out.  Board Members Carol Houck and Vicki Hood which represent Galloway Township seats are both up for re-election this year. Two new candidates will face-off against Houck and Hood for those seats this November.


Anonymous said...

What!!! ??? The Board adjourned to Executive Session. They left the meeting room. What did they do and say for 10 minutes OUTSIDE the view of the public? Clearly, a quorum was present!! Possibly a violation of the Sunshine Law!! By: Aline Dix Alpha '64

Unknown said...

There's a very viable rumor going around that this was because Mr Carruth stood up for the Marching Band and insisted they get their Championship Jackets. If this is true it makes me sick to my stomach. I would have gladly paid for my daughters if it meant Mr Carruth kept his job.

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