The Mystery of Acosta

Fellow blog-critters, you may have caught wind of a storm that's kicked up on a Patch message board. 

But look past the storm and you'll find a mystery.

It started like this:
Dear Parents,

I write to tell you that effective today, Nov. 10, Maria Acosta is on administrative leave.

I want to assure you that there will be no disruptions to our classrooms as the Board works proactively to move forward in the best interest of the school. Our excellent teachers will continue to carry out the mission of HoLa.

If an administrative issue should come up during the interim, please reach out to Rosita Nuñez (our Business Manager) or myself. If you should have any questions specifically regarding this transition, please direct them to me. I am available in person, by phone or by email.

Board members will be at the school daily should you have any questions or concerns. We will continue to keep you informed.

Jen Sargent, Board President
Over a week later, the cloud hanging over the Director's dismissal took shape on Patch in an article, Director's Dismissal Divides Charter Community.  Which brings this matter to a much wider audience and into the sun.

Of the many impassioned commenters, the one who 'took the words' out of my mouth was greenhaven, when she said this:
Blowing through some of the smoke here - dismissing a school director in 1 1/2 months into the school year is an extraordinary act that is extremely disruptive to the operation of the school. It can be justified only by serious misconduct on the part of the director. There is no way to know from the outside looking in whether this was an unfortunate but necessary action dictated by the occurrence of a sufficient level of misconduct or an inappropriate action taken by a board pursuing their personal interest in maintaining absolute control over the school,or some combination of these and other factors.
Exactly, greenhaven.

GA can't overstate how highly unusual a course of action this is.  To dismiss the Director of a school without an interim replacement.  Or without retaining the Director until a replacement can be found.

This would never happen in  the public schools.

In 2009, when Hoboken Superintendent Jack Raslowsky resigned suddenly with only 60 days notice,  the BoE acted quickly to find a replacement, Dr. Frank Romano.  And when Romano's contract fell through, the BoE swiftly hired Interim Superintendent Peter E. Carter to fill in until the position could be filled.

So what happened at HoLa?

GA will tell you screw the politics- it's about our kids. What matters most is maintaining the continuity and quality of the education the children enrolled there are getting, which appears to be excellent according to HoLa parents.

End of story.

Or is it?

Shouldn't a concerned community ask what is going on at one of our schools?

Meaning the sudden dismissal of a Director and what appears to be a rapid turnover of staff, according to HoLa parent, daddy713:
In one short year we've lost all our administrators, the nurse, school pyscologist, food manager, many teachers and 30% of our board. How do we expect our children to bond with the staff when the turnover is so high? Something is wrong here.
That is a very high turnover. 

Without speaking to individuals directly involved, one must speculate.  

GA won't do that.

Instead, GA will cite the following from the NJ Department of Eduction Section 18A:12-24.1 Code of Ethics for School Board Members:
A school board member shall abide by the following Code of Ethics for School Board Members:

d. I will carry out my responsibility, not to administer the schools, but, together with my fellow board members, to see that they are well run.
Have NJDOE rules been maintained by the HoLa Board? 
Board members will be at the school daily should you have any questions or concerns. We will continue to keep you informed.
In the words of the Board President, it seems they have not.

So, back to the mystery. 

Why was Acosta let go 1/4 into the school year?  As greenhaven stated, the only justifiable  reason for her dismissal would be (her) serious misconduct.

In fairness to Ms. Acosta, and to questions bubbling up on the blogosphere about the Board's possible micromanagement of administrators and teachers, it would be best to clear the air.

My 2 cents.

While we're on the subject of Frank Raia... we weren't?  Oh.  

How about if GA just mentions a few things: Raia is an HoLa Board member, made a 100K construction loan to HoLa to start up the school then a  year later he was awarded a 100K no-bid contract for an HoLa expansion.

Now, a few rules from NJDOE School Ethics Commission, Section 18A:12-24. Conflicts of interest:
b. No school official shall use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges, advantages or employment for himself, members of his immediate family or others;

d. No school official shall undertake any employment or service, whether compensated or not, which might reasonably be expected to prejudice his independence of judgment in the exercise of his official duties;

e. No school official, or member of his immediate family, or business organization in which he has an interest, shall solicit or accept any gift, favor, loan, political contribution, service, promise of future employment, or other thing of value based upon an understanding that the gift, favor, loan, contribution, service, promise, or other thing of value was given or offered for the purpose of influencing him, directly or indirectly, in the discharge of his official duties. This provision shall not apply to the solicitation or acceptance of contributions to the campaign of an announced candidate for elective public office, if the school official has no knowledge or reason to believe that the campaign contribution, if accepted, was given with the intent to influence the school official in the discharge of his official duties;

f. No school official shall use, or allow to be used, his public office or employment, or any information, not generally available to the members of the public, which he receives or acquires in the course of and by reason of his office or employment, for the purpose of securing financial gain for himself, any member of his immediate family, or any business organization with which he is associated;
GA hears Raia will be running for the BoE on a ticket with current BoE member Maureen Sullivan and a third member to be determined.

Another mystery!