Superintendent Admits Woodbridge High School is Under Investigation

Yet another district school is being eyed by the State Dept. of Education on allegations of cheating.


All they had originally intended to do was hire a high school football coach.

Instead, a special meeting called Tuesday night mushroomed because of several difficult and painful subjects that have hit the school district in the past week.

They included the possibility of who forged his credentials while treating nine Woodbridge schools for asbestos; the sudden and mysterious from her job last week; and the ongoing state investigation into several Woodbridge schools based on allegations of cheating on standardized tests.

But Tuesday night, one more school was added to the list of problematic institutions when Schools Superintendent John Crowe admitted that was also being investigated for cheating allegations by the NJ Department of Education (NJDOE)

Crowe dropped the bombshell in answer to Woodbridge resident 's questions about Woodbridge High and other schools in the district that have been under a cloud since charges of cheating first emerged earlier this year. 

The superintendent said he had no idea when the NJDOE would be releasing its findings on investigations of , and .

Along with , the three schools were being investigated for a high number of wrong-to-right erasures on the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJASK) standardized tests. While Ford Avenue School was eventually cleared, the reports on the other two schools have not yet been made public.

Crowe did not elaborate on the nature of the investigation into Woodbridge High.

Pinkowitz - a former BOE candidate and a parent with a young daughter in district schools - was the only member of the public to ask the board questions at the beginning of the meeting.

He broached the subject of , the former assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction who resigned abruptly last week. Her job vacancy was immediately posted on the BOE's website.

Because Rotella's leaving the district was a personnel matter, nothing more was said in public about the cause of her departure. After the board came out of executive session, Board President Brian Small said Rotella's retirement was effective as of September 1, and that the board accepted her resignation after 39 years with the district "with regret."

The board meeting had been called to deal with personnel issues, including new hires, so most of the work and discussion would be going on behind closed doors when the board went into executive session.

The problem, though, was that so many board members have family members working in the district that it would be a conflict of interest for them to vote - but if they recused themselves en masse, the board wouldn't have a quorum to do business. 

Board Attorney Jonathan Busch invoked the Doctrine of Necessity, a proviso of the School Ethics Act that allows board members to vote if they disclose the nature of the conflict of interest beforehand. 

Five of the nine members on the board - Frank DellaPietro, Judy Leidner, Lawrence Miloscia, Jonathan Triebwasser, and President Brian Small - have family members who work in some capacity for the BOE.

After the board returned, Small announced the following hires:

  • Joanna Albers, Language Arts teacher, Iselin Middle School, at a salary of $54,957;
  • Jenna Tanis, Special Education teacher, Colonia High School, at a salary of $51,435;
  • William Nyers, Head Football Coach, Woodbridge High School, at a salary of $9,435.

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DMP August 09, 2012 at 12:18 PM
I feel like those at the top are like those three little monkeys...see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. If we close our eyes and cover our ears, everything will go away. If there's something inappropriate that happens...address it...proactively, not to put out the fire. If Crowe knew WHS was involved, how did he have the nerve to sit there at a board meeting and praise Woodbridge HS for making some top rankings list. So deceptive.
Gary Introne August 09, 2012 at 12:33 PM
I think the means of operation here - in these matters - is always denial; as a tactic of just getting by. Ignoring evidences and not recognizing developing factors is one means of staying in place. It's important, again, to realize the inter-connectedness of all these people and all these things. Local political types on the make, office-holders already in place, attempting to make that office 'pay' for them (gain from it), and the usual blather of nonsense-speak and double-talk - all of this comes together under the false rubric of 'interest in bettering our childrens' education' and all that. It's all boilerplate rubbish, while the machinations and back-room dealings of the protective education unions coddle and protect their members, cut deals and endorsements with factional politicians, and seek - first and foremost - to advance teachers' financial situations and benefits at taxpayer expense. No one ever goes back a step, it's always forward - more, more, more.
rtmtech August 09, 2012 at 06:28 PM
And when your daughter gets near high school age you'll find out how gangs and drugs have infiltrated our local high schools. Then you'll be paying an extra $11k to send her to a safe school. The Woodbridge school system is a disgrace. This is what patronage and nepotism will get you: a system where administrators have to cheat and lie to make it appear that our kids are getting properly educated.
Brianne Ludlow August 09, 2012 at 08:32 PM
As a semi recent graduate of Woodbridge High I am more than surprised by these allegations. I was given a great education and honestly felt that compared to my peers at my private college I was prepared completely. Yes there is "gang violence" but it all comes down to parenting. The schools shouldn't raise children, you should. Every district has corruption and more often than not it is all about politics instead of education, but these schools were cleared for a reason. I went to school 14 and received a great foundation to my education there. Of course the district is changing but as long as your kids want to learn they will. In my four years at WHS I was taught by very educated and inspiring teachers who not only helped me learn but also helped me grow. I think the Woodbridge school district is great and shouldn't be completely overlooked and passed over.
mfee August 09, 2012 at 10:51 PM
I don't know what gang violence was going on in Woodbridge. I've never seen any of that in my four years there. All the white parents see a group of black friends walking up the street and instantly cry gangs. No, it's just a group of kids white people relax. And yes I'm white too. The only drugs you'll find in the school is some pot but good luck finding a high school in which you can't find it. The teachers are very good there and do a very good job. If you really want lower income kids out of the school then stop voting to lower taxes. If you haven't been to the school in over ten years then do not comment on it like you know it now because you probably don't.
Gary Introne August 10, 2012 at 12:42 AM
That's all very nice, and well put, but that's not the problem we're addressing with the headline. The point here is graft, corruption and influence. These are culpable people, and they've run wild with shadowy operations. The educational system of 'government' schools - which all of these are - are open-ended, taxpayer-funded sluicepipes of bad things. Face it, there is no concern other than for private and personal gain in any of this - ask the NEA or ask of the directionless stalwarts who parade as 'educators.' Truth will out. A further note on 'elections' - try moving the voting date to November, with the other election dates, and see what happens. As it is, these April or thereabouts voting dates for school budgets are incovenient, protected, and swarmed by get-out-the-vote special education interests. Make it a regular part of the election process, when voters areout anyway, more en masse, and then see what happens. No? Of course not, then the outcome and the vote-power-push couldn't be so manipulated as it is now.
Gary Introne August 10, 2012 at 10:58 AM
READ THIS: Wall Street Journal, Thursday, 8.9.12. PageA11, by David Gelernter, Yale University. 'The Friendly, Neighborhood Internet School'. Then talk or write.
Deborah Bell (Editor) August 10, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Well, we will find out since the BOE elections are this November in Woodbridge. The giveback, though, is that voters can no longer vote on the budget.
Woodbridgeman August 10, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Not a surprise at all, my brother was blackballed from the sports teams at Woodbridge, and now to find out the people who are Doing the blackballing are corrupt! This is just what to expect if you live in Woodbridge, also the police department is a whole different story, we are moving out because no one in this town does what they are hired to do
Kay Smith August 11, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Revisit this when you are a parent and fully understand the corruption in this township. I am not saying some kids didnt get a good education, we are talking about the constant lies, cheating and corruption going on here. As far as School 14, that use to be a wonderful neighborhood school until the wicked witch and her flying monkeys took over! Next time educate yourself on the problem then respond.
Kay Smith August 11, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Yup, and I can't wait to see the rest of the monkeys fall out of their money tree!
So Much to Say August 11, 2012 at 12:21 AM
You all should start with VOTING OUT....The joke of a mayor, the jokers on the council, then last but not least the jokers on the BOE. Don't you all look at your tax bill and see anything wrong??? HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Love2teach August 14, 2012 at 02:15 AM
I am doing my job trying to educate your children. I realize that the higher ups in any district not just Woodbridge need to be knocked off their high horses, however all the schools in the district are not bad. I started teaching in Jersey City over 12 years ago and have taught in this district for 6 years now. Yes there needs to be a change but I have not seen anyone with the basic common sense needed stepping up. The former students have a point, many times teacher are the buffers between policies that the higher ups think will help your child learn and the kids themselves who tell us "this won't help me". Please be careful where you aim your attacks.
ro August 14, 2012 at 04:19 AM
nepotism is the biggest problem. everyone is looking out for their fellow family members who work in the system instead of the kids. i worked for someone who dealt with employees who lost their jobs after a change of regime. funny how they loved the system when it was all their friends and thought it was "unfair" and "wrong" when it was used against them and they lost their job. Too many employees with too many benefits that cost too much. These same folks should go out in the real world and see if they survive in a real job.
Gary Introne August 14, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Dear Love2teach - I read your note; nicely put. I do want to point out, for what it's worth, that my 'attacks' are aimed at the system of government schooling, propaganda and tax-funding that keeps all this continual malfeasance going. Not aiming at the 'kids' (but just referencing them like this is part of the problem). The edifice of educating 'children' by linear, box learning is false. There's no way around that. It began on the wrong foot, a long time ago, and has evolved into a monster., a morass into which we're now all sunk.
Bucky Winters August 19, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Great, we will have a bunch of morons sitting all day in an asbestos box. Thanks Democrats! Keep it real Woodbridge. The sheep of Woodbridge keep voting in these corrupt idiots and then wonder why.
NotInKansasAnymore August 21, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Wait....why did Crowe " not elaborate" on the nature of the WHS investigation? Are we not supposed to know? Is it a secret? Maybe we should have them all attend one of their AC conferences on HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY! But I guess you can't teach old dogs new tricks right?
Jasmine August 25, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Don't like it, move . Good luck finding something to not complain about. Consider attempting to stop bashing our township online like a parade of bullies and do something about it. - A proud Barron.
Katy Lake August 25, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Jasmine, that's your answer to cheating and corruption? Move?? Do you have any idea how ignorant that makes you sound?
Kay Smith August 25, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Wow, now there is a typical Woodbridge Township answer for you. You are obviously either on the board, related to someone on the board or married to someone on the board. Your comment is right up there with Crowes comments about everything going on lately. Not only does it make you sound ignorant, it just goes to show what type of narrow minded people we actually have in this district. I don't know how you can sit there and read about the cheating, the asbestos etc and make that comment. Wow, now that's amazing!
Gary Introne August 26, 2012 at 12:40 AM
The usual head in the sand reactions, Kay, and Katy. Snide and unduly perturbed too. Of course, it's all typical - deny anything wrong until it can no longer be denied. Take cover under some ritual form of stupid school spirit or whatever that is ('Barron'). Move? I did, a long time ago, and I found that the same rotten, and usual-business, insider-derelict corruption is everywhere. So, dear Barron, why so upset at your own normalcy?
NotInKansasAnymore August 26, 2012 at 05:10 AM
No, we are not bullies Jasmine. We couldn't be. There are strict policies in this Township against bullying. They strictly enforce them with the children. They just haven't gotten around to writing any strict policies that they need to adhere to unfortunately. I would love to be able to sit here like you and write praise after praise for our township but I'm not that stupid. I read the paper and watch the news. I certainly wish I could move because it is getting a little embarassing when I have to say where I live. -A Fed-UP Resident
David Pinkowitz August 27, 2012 at 03:35 AM
You may get your wish. The 2011 erasure analysis was just released. Commissioner of Education Cerf stated that OFAC would investigate schools that "are flagged for a wrong-to-right erasure rate 4 standard deviations above the mean in the same grade and subject area in consecutive years." Ford Avenue was flagged in fifth grade Language Arts Literacy in both 2010 and 2011. The school only barely missed repeating the feat in fifth grade Mathematics.
Kay Smith August 27, 2012 at 01:40 PM
David: I hope you are right on this. Ford Avenue has been allowed to get away with unspeakable events, both directed at the children and behind the scenes with the Bd of Ed knowing it all. They should not be allowed to jeopardize their early education any further because she feels she is "above it all". Hope the right thing gets done. Thanks for the update.
David Pinkowitz August 28, 2012 at 02:14 AM
The Board Attorney admitted that School 14 is now under investigation. That was the preliminary to the fireworks at the meeting where cheating was found at Schools 4&5 and 11. Three teachers and two principals are suspended with pay pending further investigation. The Board did say they accepted the resignation of the assistant superintendent related to this at all. The report will be on the school website on Tuesday.
Kay Smith August 28, 2012 at 02:22 PM
David: Once again I appreciate your update. The cheating at School 14 was brought to Crowe and Rotella's attention in 2010, (well before this hit the fan), and all they did was nod and smile. Never a concern or question about it. My question, once again, is why was this school left out of the State Investigation? What makes them any different? What is going on at that school that makes them "untouchable" (who do they know)? If you look at the amount of children being tutored at that school you would be amazed but yet the test scores prove different. I truly hope that someone steps in and does something, if not, it will not stop, at least not there.
Tara Mansfield August 29, 2012 at 02:53 PM
In response to Kay Smith's comment, while I agree with you on many of your points, I do NOT agree that the district should get rid of EVERYONE and stop hiring family members. My mother worked in the Child Study Team, retiring recently, after many years of hard work and dedication. She was an extremely consciencous worker and ALWAYS went above and beyond what was expected of her to simplify the lives of her co workers and ensure that her work was done correctly and efficiently! I came into the district as a substitute nurse many years after she started and I work with the same values that she upheld. I do everything in my power and scope of practice as a nurse to care for these children. I am the boo boo healer when they get a cut, the heart healer when they are sad, the belly filler when they forget their lunch ....and the list goes on. So....moral of the story? 1. Not EVERY district employee is corrupt and 2. The current problems in the district do NOT hinge on whether or not its employees come from the same family!
Tara Mansfield August 29, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Kudos, Brianne, for your comment! EVERY teacher in the township should NOT take the brunt of the criticism for the happenings in the township schools. I am a substitute nurse in the township and have had the pleasure of working with MANY teachers throughout the township who work damn hard to ensure the education of our children and take a hell of a lot of abuse from the parents in the process. We're quick to point our fingers at the teachers....the teachers did this....the teachers did that. These parents should come to school and witness how downright DISRESPECTFUL the children have become to their teachers. Why? Because today's youth live under the gross misconception of entitlement! I am as disgusted with these accusations as any other parent. I DO have a child who attended schools in this district through 8th grade (School 14 being one of them)! BUT that school is full of many fantastic and dedicated teachers! I am also a product of the Woodbridge Township school system and I have turned out just fine. I've received an AMAZING education! I can not complain! Please don't make the mistake of dismissing the ENTIRE faculty of Woodbridge Township across the board based on the mistakes of a few. Put the blame with the ones involved who deserve it, but PLEASE....continue to respect the hard working individuals employed in the schools who come to work every day and put their blood, sweat and tears into molding our youth into fine, upstanding and educated people!
NotInKansasAnymore August 30, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Wow Tara....did someone hit a nerve? Good thing you're a nurse...you can heal yourself! Too bad your child didn't continue his/her education in this township and go onto WHS. He or she could have had FANTASTIC TEST SCORES! But I could see why you'd be so protective of all the wonderful teachers and schools here.....YOU WORK THERE! LOL
Jo August 30, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Kansas: I have been following these comments right from the beginning and am amazed at what is being said. I felt compelled to comment on yours because your and Kays comment brought out the worm. Your comment just proved a strong point....how the people who are related or even work together will have the backs of the wrong doers no matter what and have the nerve to turn it around and put it back on us. While this has gotten off the subject, I find it amazing how TARA MANSFIELD took it so personally. It is obvious that there are a few good ones, it is obvious that some people do follow the rules but it is unfortunate that the liers and cheats have put such a black cloud over this district that the good ones are getting lost. TARA needs to be upset with the wrongdoers for putting her and her mom in a negative light, she should be firing at them, not the residents of Woodbridge who just want a honest place to raise our kids. Bravo to you and Kay for hitting that nerve so someone actually showed their hand and proved how the clicks in this district DO STICK together, no matter what! Also, most people keep their identity hidden, TARA put her name out there, to get Kudos perhaps......hmmmmmm


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