WEST ORANGE, NJ — At the May 21 West Orange Board of Education meeting, a speaker alleged during public speaks that a district employee had misused district funds, prompting a cover-up by Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Rutzky. According to records made public by the speaker, a Gregory School employee used school funds in 2016 to pay her personal property taxes to Millburn. Rutzky then reportedly requested a refund from Millburn’s chief financial officer, citing an “error.” The money was refunded.
On May 25, the West Orange Board of Education released the following letter:
“Recently, a few individuals have made inflammatory and possibly defamatory comments concerning various district employees and professionals at public meetings and on various social media sites, attempting to vilify certain individuals. The West Orange Board of Education does not condone this conduct and is gravely concerned by its negative impact on our staff and the district’s excellent reputation. As the public and staff are well aware, the West Orange Board of Education and its administration are legally precluded from discussing personnel actions in public or responding to inquiries regarding personnel. Many personnel matters are appropriately addressed through the district’s administration. When it is necessary for the West Orange Board of Education to take appropriate personnel actions, it always does so within the parameters of the law, while remaining mindful of the need to protect the privacy rights of our staff. While private citizens enjoy a First Amendment right to speak at public meetings and/or post information on social media, the West Orange Board of Education wants to remind everyone that we should all be working together to ensure that our district embodies the same values of kindness, respect and propriety that we all endeavor to impart to our children.
“If a particular matter requires an investigation, the West Orange Board of Education immediately directs the appropriate staff and/or its professionals to investigate the matter, and report the findings to the full Board of Education, so that proper remedial measures can be taken. In response to allegations and documents presented to the board earlier this year, the board previously reported, in Open Public Meeting, that it was conducting an investigation. Furthermore, in the coming week, the board will convene a special executive session to explore engaging a third-party, independent investigator, to investigate all allegations.
“Rest assured that the West Orange Board of Education members, who were duly elected by the citizenry of West Orange, work tirelessly to make the West Orange School District the best possible learning environment for our students and working environment for our staff. We call upon all West Orange residents to do the same.
“Thank you for your patience, partnership and understanding, in these matters. We thank our veterans for their sacrifices, and wish you and your families a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend.”