South Plainfield School Board Member Censured for Ethics Violations

The South Plainfield School Board recently held a meeting where it was disclosed that a member had been officially censured for violating the School Ethics Act. The censure, a result of a complaint filed in November 2021, followed a review and deliberation process by the School Ethics Commission.

The complaint was filed against the board member by fellow members Jim Giannakis, Keith Both, Thomas Cassio, Pio Pennisi, Doug Chapman, and William Seesselberg. The allegations claimed that the member in question broke multiple divisions of the School Ethics Act. While some allegations were dismissed, others were upheld, leading to the censure.

The School Ethics Commission adopted the decision to dismiss certain violations, but denied the motion to dismiss the alleged violations of the New Jersey Statutes Annotated (NJSA) 18a 12-24.1 D and NJSA 18a 12-241e. The Commission, following an administrative law hearing, concluded that the respondent violated several sections of the NJSA. The penalty recommended for these violations was a censure.

The Commission’s decision was forwarded to the Commissioner of Education for final determination of the recommended penalty. The Commissioner agreed with the recommended sanction, noting the respondent’s action in bypassing the chain of command and criticizing and questioning district administrators. The decision to censure the board member was made public during the recent meeting of the South Plainfield School Board.

In addition to the ethics violation issue, the meeting covered several other topics, including an upcoming senior project on December 16th for a blood drive. The board urged the public to participate, stating that out of the 40 slots available, 30 have been filled, and additional donors are still needed. Board members also moved into an executive session to discuss confidential matters pertaining to personnel and attorney-client privilege. No actions were taken in this session.

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.

Dr. Noreen Tansey Lishak
School Board Officials:
Pio Pennisi, Thomas Cassio, Keith Both, Doug Chapman, John Farinella, Jim Giannakis, Sharon Miller, Divon Pender, William Seesselberg

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