Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Policy of Hiring Interim Superintendents and Administrators Part of a State Wide Investigative Report

When school superintendents in New Jersey leave for other jobs, someone needs to take over leadership of the district. As has become the policy of late, this means that often an interim steps in while school boards search for a permanent replacement. In the case of the Hoboken School District, when its superintendent left in August of 2009 after giving 3 months notice, the Hoboken School Board took a few years to find a permanent replacement. During this period between permanent superintendents, the political group known as Kids First, who hold the political majority, insisted on using this policy of hiring retired interim administrators within the school district. Specifically, the hiring of interim superintendent Peter Carter (retired) and eventually interim superintendent Walter Rusak (retired). But Kids First was not content with hiring just interim superintendents, they also hired interim principals, interim business administrators, and interim assistant superintendents. 

These retired interims and others across the state of New Jersey, received monthly checks from the Teachers' Pension and Annuity Fund in addition to their salaries in school districts like Hoboken.

The pension rules in New Jersey allow retired administrators to work for up to two years in any given interim position and there are no limits on the number of times they can hold interim positions as reported in an investigative report entitled "Double-Dips Add Up To Millions for 45 Retired School Chiefs" by Mark Lagerkvist at NJ Watchdog

These rules are established by the NJ Pension system and are intended to allow district to hire “temporary” people in key roles until a permanent position is filled. State pension statutes place a two-year limit on the length of time a retired superintendent can collect a pension while earning a salary as an interim superintendent. all retired educators are eligible for the perk. Former teachers who return to the classroom must cancel their retirements and re-enroll in the pension fund. This happened following the repeal in November 2003 of a rule permitting interim employment for up to six months without penalty. Exempted from that decision were certified superintendents and administrators, including principals and school business administrators, who already were playing by a different set of rules. Starting in January 2002, retired superintendents and business administrators were permitted to accept employment on an interim basis for up to two years in a single district. With just a small break between jobs, retired superintendents can hop from district to district without affecting their pension income.