Freehold Regional High School District Board Welcomes New Members and Emphasizes Ethics

The Freehold Regional High School District Board of Education commenced its reorganization meeting by swearing in newly elected members Carl Accettola, Amanda McCobb, Elizabeth Higley, and Michael Messinger. Peter Bruno was elected President and Messinger as Vice President of the Board. The meeting underscored the importance of ethical conduct for board members, with Jeff Kesi and Jeff Chiesa providing ethics training that highlighted the necessity of avoiding conflicts of interest and maintaining public trust.

Following the official proceedings, the Board’s focus shifted to an intensive ethics training session designed to ensure that the new members, along with the incumbents, were fully aware of their responsibilities. Jeff Kesi opened the session by emphasizing the importance of the Board’s role in policymaking, planning, and appraisal, and the essential nature of adhering to laws, rules, and regulations set by the State Board of Education. Kesi’s presentation was geared towards avoiding the pitfalls of micromanagement and ensuring that board members maintain the public’s confidence by avoiding any conduct that could be perceived as violating their trust or creating conflicts of interest.

The discussion on ethics continued with Jeff Chiesa, who reiterated the need for confidentiality and the appropriate protocol for handling complaints, referring them to the chief administrative officer. Chiesa cautioned against the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information and stressed the requirement for transparency regarding potential conflicts of interest, especially for board members with relatives in the district or business relationships with the district. Furthermore, Chiesa expounded on the doctrine of necessity, which allows board members to vote on certain matters in the event of a conflict of interest.

Questions from board members during the ethics presentation brought forth important clarifications. One member’s query about the obligation to maintain confidentiality even when legal violations are suspected led to Chiesa’s explanation that while there is a right to report such conduct, the administration and the board attorney should be informed prior to any action. Additionally, the topic of whistleblower protection was addressed, with the recommendation that the board attorney be consulted before reporting violations directly to law enforcement.

Superintendent Nicole P. She provided updates on the district’s initiatives, including the orientation programs for rising ninth graders, which aim to facilitate a seamless introduction for students and families to the high school environment. Hazel also spoke about the district’s readiness for the upcoming rain event and the collaborative decision-making process for potential school closures or delays.

Hazel’s report included information on the tutoring programs available across all six high schools, designed to assist students who are struggling academically. She highlighted the preparation being undertaken for the upcoming state testing week in March, commending the administrators and teachers for their dedication to supporting students. Furthermore, the Superintendent touched upon the Middle States accreditation process and the alignment with the district’s strategic plan, Compass 3. 0, expressing excitement for this collaborative journey.

The meeting was further enriched by the presence of special guest Senator Gopal, who acknowledged the board and district’s challenges and offered his support. Community members took the opportunity to express their support for the newly elected board members, and a resolution was added by Board member Mr. Bruno to recognize School Board Recognition Month, acknowledging the service of all board members within the district and sending districts.

In addition to the ethical training and updates, the board discussed an executive agenda addition related to a recent HIB (Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying) appeal, which was slated for consideration.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Superintendent:
Nicole P. Hazel
School Board Officials:
Peter Bruno, Michael Messinger, Carl Accettola, Jamie Bruno, Diana Cappiello, Elizabeth Higley, Kathie Lavin, Amanda McCobb, Marc Parisi

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