School Board Forced to Clarify Staff DUI Policy Amidst Hiring Debates

In the aftermath of heated discussions over the recent hiring of new business administrator, Peter Iapelli, the Oradell School Board met once again, clarifying existing policies, including those regarding DUI offenses. They also highlighted ongoing summer initiatives.

The meeting began with the board directly addressing the controversy surrounding Mr. Iapelli, who had been at the center of debates due to allegations of past incidents, including a possible DUI/DWI offense. The Board clarified its stance on staff DUI offenses, a move prompted by outrage from the community following Mr. Iapelli’s hiring.

The School Board reiterated that under its current policy and New Jersey law, a staff member charged with a DUI is not subject to dismissal or penalization as DUI offenses are considered traffic offenses. These offenses are not reported on by the State Board of Examiners, which conducts background checks for new applicants and monitors current public employees. However, if a staff member is arrested and charges are filed, they are required to inform the school district within 14 days of the incident.

As they grappled with these legal and policy issues, the board also showcased the district’s ongoing summer programs. The district successfully hosted several external initiatives including a summer theater program and a recreation department summer camp, while running their own enrichment programming for 235 students.

In the superintendent’s report, updates were given on infrastructure projects such as floor replacements, stairwell paintings, and the installation of pavers for a new outdoor classroom area. An innovative practice of involving students in the hiring process of a new sixth-grade science teacher was also shared, marking a commitment to student-centric decision making.

The Board did not explicitly revisit the critique over the district’s reading instruction methodology, a concern previously raised by parent and educator, Jen Allen. Allen had called for a more systematic approach to reading instruction, based on the “science of reading,” but the Board’s proposed actions or responses on this front remained undiscussed during this meeting.

The meeting concluded with the members heading into a closed session to discuss special education student issues.

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