Booker and FriendsSeptember 2, 2008
Keansburg updateSeptember 5, 2008
The Star-Ledger reported yesterday that three Freehold Regional School administrators were ordered to strip the “Ph.D” from their titles after news broke that they received raises because of doctorates received from an unaccredited diploma mill called Breyer State University.
This edict came down from the NJ Commission on Higher Education, which sent “cease and desist” letters to the egg-faced administrators.
Wasser has been adamant about being called by his title.
In April, Wasser admonished a student who had addressed him at a school board meeting. Wasser interrupted 17-year-old Colts Neck High School student Mark Cosentino and insisted that Cosentino address him as “Dr. Wasser” before he could continue speaking. Cosentino complied.
Wasser wrote in a response to further questions that he will “absolutely” continue to use the doctor of education title. He also wrote that he will not pursue a degree from an accredited university.)
Yesterday Lucille Davy, Commissioner of Education, sent a letter yesterday to all NJ superintendents and charter school leaders. The missive begins,
Recently there have been serious concerns raised regarding the use of degrees from non-accredited institutions by New Jersey educators. As you know, the Department of Education does not permit the use of such degrees when issuing certification credentials. In addition, under state law individuals are not permitted to use titles or degree references unless the degree was obtained from an institution duly authorized by the State of New Jersey. Given these concerns, I though it would be helpful to provide you with the applicable statutory information as well as information with respect to how you can determine if an institution is an institution duly authorized by the State of New Jersey.
Davy then goes on to cite N.J.S.A. 18A:3-15.3, which regulates appending letters to titles based on academic degrees and refers back to a database of approved accredited institutions.
So, where’s the local governance? The local volunteer school board has been silent on this matter and, apparently, a bit lax on its due diligence. On the other hand, the total pay-out to the three administrators was $8700 in tuition and an increased payroll of $7500, $2500 for each administrator for the last year. To put it in perspective, that’s about the cost of a benefits package for one teacher for one year, or one year’s salary for a classroom assistant. Peanuts.
The DOE’s response? Perhaps a little over the top. But it gets to the heart of the current battle over home rule that informs this dust-up. The School Board in Freehold blew it. The State came down with a sledgehammer (and probably spent more than $16,000, the total tab on this debacle, when you factor in the time, red tape, distribution costs of Davy’s memo). Where is the proper balance? We’re still looking.