Joseph Sangiovanni, whose contract as transportation manager for the Brick school district will not be renewed, said he is being let go by the Board of Education as retaliation for cooperating with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office over “illegal activities in the work place.”
Specifically, Sangiovanni told Shorebeat, he spoke with the prosecutor over the matter of former superintendent Walter Uszenski’s arrest and what he alleges as “improper dealings with vendors” by Board of Education President Sharon Cantillo.
“Sharon knows I’ve been talking to the prosecutor, and she knows I’ve been talking about her,” said Sangiovanni, who would not expound on the nature of the alleged “improper dealings.”
Cantillo said Friday morning that she “has no idea what [Sangiovanni] is talking about,” and has no interaction with district vendors.
“I didn’t even know that he went to the prosecutor’s office,” Cantillo said, and thus was not out to exact revenge. “I don’t even talk to vendors, I’m not on the committee where you have dealings with vendors, and I never had any dealings whatsoever with Joe Sangiovanni.”
Al Della Fave, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said the office had no comment when asked about the matter.
Cantillo said the board’s facilities committee, on which she does not serve, handles contracts and district vendors.
“I think Mr. Sangiovanni is very, very disgruntled about losing his job, and I think the department, and all the problems it has, speaks for itself,” Cantillo said, referring to bus drivers who have publicly described a chaotic and poorly-managed transportation department at recent board meetings.
Sangiovanni also said that potential ethics charges against board member Michael Conti may be filed out of revenge as well. George Scott, the resident who is filing the ethics charge over mortgage deals struck by Conti for at least 16 district employees, is angry that John Talty was not reappointed his seat because Talty helped get his nephew a job as a mechanic’s helper in the transportation department, Sangiovanni alleges. Sangiovanni said he was also pushed to promote Scott’s nephew when a new position opened up.
“I was forced to choose Mr. Scott’s nephew [for the job], so now he has become a servant to the board president. And, as you know, the board president wants John Talty back and Mike Conti is one of the board members that [doesn’t] want him back,” Sangiovanni explained in an e-mail to Shorebeat prior to a phone interview Friday morning.
Conti, a Republican, is running on a ticket that includes fellow board member Frank Pannucci, Jr. for township council. Sangiovanni is a former Republican council member and mayoral candidate in Brick.
Sangiovanni said he has been on sick leave due to job-related stress for several months. The stress level, he said, dates back to November, when he alleges Talty told him his contract would not be renewed unless he “worked harder.”
“I was already working 10 to 12 hours a day,” said Sangiovanni. “I said, ‘I can’t work any harder than that.'”
Sangiovanni said he is planning on filing ethics complaints with the state School Ethics Commission against Cantillo and Talty – against Cantillo for the alleged improprieties with vendors and against Talty for interfering in district business by speaking to him directly about his contract.
“He can file whatever he wants,” said Cantillo. “I hope that he has information to back up the claims that he’s making against me, because I have nothing to do with vendors. I think everyone is throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks.”