Montclair schools hire another independent investigator — but for what?
By TALIA WIENER
The Montclair Board of Education has hired another consultant for an in-district investigation, but so far officials aren’t sharing any details about why.
The board March 2 approved a contract with Charles Ford, at a rate of $150 per hour, capped at $10,000 without additional board approval. No additional information about the investigation was provided in the agreement.
Schools Superintendent Jonathan Ponds and board President Latifah Jannah said Monday they were unable to share any information about the investigation.
Montclair Education Association President Cathy Kondreck has not yet responded to an email sent Wednesday asking if the union is involved in the investigation.
There is a Charles Ford who currently serves as superintendent of the Monmouth County Vocational School District. He has not yet responded to an email sent to his district address or a voicemail left with his office Thursday asking if he is conducting the investigation and for details of its substance.
Montclair Local has submitted a public records request to the Montclair school district for documents related to the investigation.
On June 21, the board approved a contract hiring Nicholas Cipriano to investigate the accusations in a 32-page letter by Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Robert H. Kelley IV alleging years of abusive practices by managers and maintenance neglected to a point Kelley said put staff and students at risk. That investigation, over what Kelley had described as a "whistleblower" letter, was completed in August.
The findings of Cipriano’s investigation remain confidential, but the investigation found a disrespectful work environment that fostered negativity and cultural insensitivity, Ponds said at a Nov. 22 school board meeting.
Cipriano was paid $28,930 for the investigation, according to an August bill report by the district.
Around the same time, Cipriano was hired as the Montclair school district’s business new administrator and school board secretary. He replaced Emidio D’Andrea, one of the district employees he investigated.