In a response to a complaint filed by Shorebeat to a state agency, an attorney for the Brick school district acknowledged that his office had drawn up termination charges against suspended Superintendent Walter Uszenski.
Previously, James Edwards, business administrator the district, had denied a request made by Shorebeat under the state’s Open Public Records Act, claiming the documents did not exist. After a review of legal services invoices revealed entries related to the charge documents have been created, Shorebeat filed the complaint with the state Government Records Council which, in turn, required the district to respond.
Ryan Amberger, an attorney with the firm of Montenegro, Thompson, Montenegro & Genz, which represents the district, said in the response that “a draft document of termination charges was prepared by counsel in response to the Board of Education’s instructions to report back with options regarding termination of Walter Uszenski’s contract.”
Though records show that the document was created in January, Amberger wrote in the response that the charges have “yet to be presented to the Board of Education.”
“The final decision on whether such charges will be filed lies with the board, and a decision has yet to be made,” Amberger went on to say.
The fact that the documents physically exist – however, have not been formally presented to the Board of Education despite an apparent review by the Interim Superintendent of Schools – justified the denial under the pretext that the documents “do not exist,” Amberger argued.
Though the district ultimately acknowledged the existence of the documents in its response, they maintain the charges should not be made public because the document is deliberative material and subject to attorney-client privilege since the filing of charges would likely lead to litigation.
Nicholas Montenegro, the district’s attorney, said at a Board of Education meeting last week that Uszenski would be entitled to return as superintendent and qualify for back pay if he were to be acquitted of pending charges or if the charges were dropped.
Uszenski is accused of official misconduct and theft for allegedly providing education services to his grandchild, for which the child was not eligible to receive. The case has yet to go to trial.