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Randolph school board member Jeanne Stifelman is once again in the news but this time it has nothing to do with community outrage at changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day or shortening the two-day Rosh Hashanah holiday to one day off. (State Sen. Anthony M. Bucco quipped that in an attempt to foster diversity, the board had divided the town.) Yet this time it’s personal: according to reports, Stifelman received four payments from the school district for a total of $45,000 but left them out of her 2019 financial disclosure forms that every school board member fills out.
Four parents–Eliza Schleifstein, Layne Broyles, Maria Ricupero, and Gerlando Termini–filed the ethics complaint in 2019. The state School Ethics Commission just found that there is “probable cause” to move forward with the complaint
The School Ethics Act requires all school staff and officials, including school board members, to report each source of income received in excess of $2,000. Board members must also report gifts, reimbursements or prepaid expenses with an aggregate value exceeding $250 from any single source, including school districts. But Stifelman neglected to include those payments in her financial disclosure paperwork.
The Daily Record reports that the four parents originally obtained check registers from the district but much was redacted. It was only recently that they were able to show that Stifelman received the $45K in a “Legal-Outside Settlement,” most likely because the district was paying tuition to a non-district school for one of her children.
If Stifelman is found to have committed an ethics violation— in this case, filing a disclosure statement “which the school official knows to be false” – she could be “subject to reprimand, censure, suspension, or removal pursuant to the procedures established in section 9 of P.L.1991, c.393 (C.18A:12-29). Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent or limit criminal prosecution.”
To be continued…
(Photo courtesy of The Record.)