Board Wants Fishbein Back, BOE President Says Morgan Can Participate in Discussions

Ex-trustee Charlie Reilly has said Morgan is biased and shouldn't be involved; Fishbein's contract expires next summer but the board wants him to stay.

Ridgewood school board president Sheila Brogan on Monday rebuked ex-trustee Charlie Reilly's public statements that member Jim Morgan would have to bow out of contract negotiations due to perceived bias issues.

"It was suggested it would be unethical if Mr. Morgan were to participate in board discussions regarding Dr. Fishbein's employment contract status," said Brogan, citing a Letter to the Editor Reilly sent to The Ridgewood News several weeks ago and a .

Taking Reilly's claims "seriously," Brogan said she consulted the school board attorney who found "Morgan's participation in discussions related to Dr. Fishbein's contract status would not be a violation of the New Jersey School Ethics Act or the Code of Ethics by which all board members are bound.

"There is no indication that Mr. Morgan cannot be objective on evaluating Dr. Fishbein's performance as Superintendent of Ridgewood Public Schools," Brogan said at Monday's school board meeting. 

Fishbein's contract expires in summer of 2013 and he soon will have a difficult decision to make.

He could stay in his hometown where he has children in the district, but would face a 30 percent cut in salary due to the state's cap on superintendent pay.

Alternatively, Fishbein could – like many counterparts have done in recent years – flee for a job in New York where there are no salary restrictions. Fishbein makes over $220,000 a year; should he stay in Ridgewood he'd drop to about $165,000, which would also lower his pension status.

It remains unclear what Fishbein will decide or when he'll make his decision, but the board has given all indications it wants him back.

"Going forward, I am pleased to announce that the board has unanimously expressed to Dr. Fishbein our support and the desire for him to continue his service to the district in his capacity as Superintendent of Schools," Brogan said.

Morgan declined to comment and Fishbein did not return a request for comment on Tuesday.

Reilly, however, isn't stepping back from his comments.

In an e-mail sent to Patch on Tuesday, Reilly said he was "pleased" the board would like to see Fishbein back.

He wasn't quite as pleased to hear Morgan will participate in discussions.

"Mr. Morgan displays a lack of common decency in using his office as a trustee for the education of Ridgewood’s children to decide on the continued employment of a person for whom he has without basis in fact cast aspersions on more than one occasion," Reilly said.

The former school board member claimed Morgan questioned how truthful Fishbein was during the RHS bridge saga, among other field issues.

"Despite any benefit of the doubt to which he may be entitled having taken the oath of office as a Board member, he must recognize that he has squandered his credibility as an objective evaluator of merit," Reilly said.

The board has been in discussions with Fishbein as to an extension. Fishbein's contract stipulates that he notify the board if he plans to leave 90 days before his contract expires.

Inigo de Loyola May 24, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Andrew Cuomo isn't capable of generating his own ideas…so you can expect him to copy Christie's pay scales for Superintendants. Which of course means anyone leaving for NY $tate will merely encounter the same reality that NJ supers are looking at next year.
CPA May 24, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Dr. Fishbein has done a good job but not great. He has taken responsiblity for the failure of his staff to make the right financial decisions based on his acceptance of the purchase of the science kits. The science kits are the same information the kids already have just in another form. Is justification of the $300k spend necessary, I don't believe so. The computer fiasco is just another issue he claims responsibility for. So knowing he needs to take a $50k haircut based on Gov. Christies BS policies maybe we can overlook the mistakes that were made. My guess is he takes a net zero percent increase based on the increase in his medical benefits. Please let me point out one other thing. I said previously that the BA had cushioned the 20% medical benefits line in his budget and I was correct. So that is a savings of 10.5% not what Bob Hutton said a net 9.5% loss (that needs to come from another source).
CPA May 24, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Charlie and Bob both need to hold their tongues. Both are irrelevant.
Mic May 25, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Mr. Reilly, you stepped down and you should really step away. Most decent people know when they have been too long at the dance. Thank you for your service.
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