Board Certifies Tenure Charges Against Manalapan Principal
The Freehold Regional High School District certified tenure charges against Manalapan High School Principal Jeff Simon; the nature of the charges was not made public.
The Freehold Regional High School District voted to certify the filed tenure charges against Jeff Simon, the Manalapan High School principal who the district placed on administrative leave in December, at the Board of Education meeting last night.
According to Board President Heshy Moses, Superintendent Charles Sampson conducted a thorough investigation on Feb. 6 and filed tenure charges and a statement of evidence against Simon with the Board of Education. Simon filed a written statement of position in response to the charges within 15 days of the charges being served to him, in accordance with the law.
Moses explained that the Board acted as a “grand-jury” like entity, deciding whether or not there was sufficient evidence against Simon for the Commisioner of Education to determine Simon’s guilt or innocence and determine whether the conduct charges, if proved true, would warrant punishment.
Considering Simon’s written statement, the filed tenure charges, and the evidence, the Board voted in closed executive session, prior to the public meeting, to certify the tenure charges against Simon and forward them to the Commissioner of Education for a formal hearing.
According to law, all Board discussions regarding the certification of tenure charges must take place in closed session and not in public, Moses explained - twice. Additionally, the president stated that this issue is a matter of personnel and the Board would be unable to comment publicly on the circumstance.
Simon and his attorney, Stuart Moskovitz, attended the meeting last night in Marlboro High School’s auditorium, crowded with Simon supporters, and both spoke during public comment.
Simon said that he is “unfairly being victimized by a retaliatory, revengeful act in violation of the Conscientious Employee Protection Act”. Simon went on to say that “not a single one of the 12 charges is valid, truthful, substantiated with evidence, warranted, legitimate, or reason for tenure charges to be brought against [him].”
As Simon attempted to vocalize the full story of what he referred to as a “vindictive witch hunt”, beginning with an incident involving and administrator and a coach in September 2010, former Board attorney Steve Edelstein stopped Simon and told him he would not be permitted to air the details of his trial during public comment at a Board of Education meeting.
Simon said that in May of 2011 and in August of 2011 charges were brought against him, an investigation occurred, and all charges were dropped due to lack of evidence. Moskovitz said that the charges brought against Simon in May were aimed at keeping him from getting his increment and that they were “a retaliation for whistle-blowing against one of your administrators.”
And than on Dec. 12, Simon said he was blindsided when Sampson changed the locks on his doors and put him on administrative pay leave without warning, calling the superintendent's actions “aggressive, bullying, anti-Semitic and callous”.
Moskovitz said that the original charges brought against Simon in December when he was removed were refuted and that on Feb. 6, a new group of 13 affidavits came forward. Moskovitz went on to say that Simon’s 38-page response to these charges proved each affidavit false and that Edelstein was back in Manalapan last week “desperately trying to find something else.”
Manalapan High School students, parents, alums, police officers, and township officials came out last night to stand behind Simon and discuss their disappointment and frustration about the inexplicit nature of the charges and the amount this litigation will cost the tax payers.
Words like “inspiring”, “trustworthy”, “integrity”, “strength”, “great”, “caring” and the like were used last night to describe Simon, as over 25 people spoke in defense of his character.
Manalapan Mayor Susan Cohen and former Mayor and present Committeeman Andrew Lucas also came out in support of Simon. Lucas said that the township has formed a partnership with Simon and that there is no one they would rather have as a principal at Manalapan High School.
Cohen told the Board that residents are calling her everyday asking her what Simon did and that she is ashamed the Board voted before hearing the public speak on his behalf.
If the community members want to see a full list of the charges brought against Simon, the Board said they can file an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request and send it over to Business Administrator Sean Boyce at 11 Pine Street Englishtown, NJ 07726.