Sarlo, Weinberg, Gordon Call For Immediate Change At Bergen Academies And Vo-Tech Schools

Senators Call for Immediate Firing of Superintendent, Forensic Audits

TRENTON – Bergen County Senators Paul Sarlo, Loretta Weinberg and Bob Gordon today called for a series of sweeping changes at the Bergen County Technical and Special Services School Districts, including the immediate dismissal of the superintendent and the ouster of its board.

The Senators’ actions followed the State Department of Education’s forwarding of a list of improprieties to the Attorney General for further review. The problems uncovered included altered time sheets, misuse of district vehicles and the inclusion of a contracted attorney in the state’s pension and health benefits plans.

“The leadership of Bergen Tech clearly used taxpayer money for pretty much anything but what it was supposed to be used for,” said Senator Sarlo, chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. “We shouldn’t have to wait for the Attorney General’s review before taking action, because we already know what needs to be done. It’s time to clean house.”

“The purpose of a school is to support and educate our kids, not give carte blanche to greedy administrators to grab as much taxpayer money as possible for themselves and their friends,” said Senator Weinberg. “The excesses of the school administration are inexcusable and, quite frankly, disgusting. We don’t need to wait for another investigation to tell us that changes need to be made.”

The Senators joined with County Executive Dennis McNerney to call for the following actions:

• The immediate termination, with cause, of Superintendent Bob Aloia, who currently is on suspension from the post;

• The resignations of all members of the school board associated with Aloia’s leadership;

• A third-party forensic audit of the district’s finances; and

• A comprehensive corrective action plan from the school’s new administration.

The Senators noted that Bergen Tech is one of New Jersey’s premier vocational schools, and the allegations would taint the achievements of its students unless the corrective actions are taken.

“The level of impropriety in this case is just astounding, and anything less than immediate action is unacceptable,” said Senator Gordon. “There is no reason for these issues to remain unresolved when common-sense solutions are readily available. Taxpayers and students deserve nothing less than new leadership and renewed faith that the school is there to serve them, and not the other way around.”

The lawmakers added that they are considering introducing legislation that would give county governments more oversight and control over the finances of the various county schools.