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Attorney: Brick BOE Member Was Allowed to Amend Financial Disclosure

Brick Township Board of Education/Schools (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Brick Township Board of Education/Schools (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Brick Township Board of Education member Vito A. Gagliardi, Sr., a former state education commissioner who was appointed to the board this summer to fill the unexpired term of John Talty, was allowed to modify his state-required personal disclosure form after it had been submitted, the school district’s attorney said Thursday night.

The disclosure forms are required of all elected and appointed school board members statewide as well as some district employees. On them, board members and others are required to list all their sources of income over a specified amount. The forms have been required since 1992, and were the result of an effort by state officials to prevent school board members and administrators from voting on matters for which they have a conflict of interest.

Township resident George Scott briefly brought up the matter of Gagliardi’s disclosure form during an emergency board meeting earlier this month before being silenced by board attorney Jack Sahradnik. At the time, Sahradnik said only the suspension without pay of superintendent Walter Uszenski – the reason the emergency meeting was held – could be discussed.

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At the time, Gagliardi’s personal disclosure form did not disclose his $94,548 state pension. Gagliardi, a Faber Lane resident, draws his pension from his career with the Union County Vocational school district.

Before the matter was brought up in public Thursday night, again by Scott, the link to Gagliardi’s disclosure form was removed from a state Department of Education website and was later replaced with a revised form that lists a number of his income sources, including the pension.

“Of course a statement can be amended and resubmitted,” said Sahradnik.

Gagliardi did not speak on the matter.

State statutes and administrative codes do not provide a specific mechanism for such forms to be modified if information is incorrect or otherwise omitted, but there are exceptions.

“Disclosure forms cannot be modified once the list of school officials is closed, leaving only those officials who did not file, and who are now subject to the enforcement process and eventual discipline on the list,” said Richard Vespucci, spokesman for the Department of Education.

The state maintains two lists of disclosure forms each year, Vespucci said, a February 1 list that closes April 30 and a June 1 list that closes Nov. 15. The June 1 list, which includes the forms of school officials hired, elected or appointed after April, remained open, allowing Gagliardi to submit an amended version.

The dates for which the list opens and closes each year is a practice utilized by the state School Ethics Commission for managing disclosure statements.

“The commission has the discretion to review this practice at any time and modify it if circumstances require a change,” Vespucci said.