Secaucus school board approved tenure charges against suspended HS principal

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Secaucus school board approved tenure charges against suspended HS principal

SECAUCUS –The Board of Education approved tenure charges against suspended Secaucus High School Principal Bob Berckes at a closed-session meeting on Aug. 6, according to a spokesman for the state Department of Education.
Word of tenure charges recommended by Superintendent Jennifer Montesano against Berckes first broke in July. They are considered the most serious charges against a tenured faculty member, and a crucial step in their potential termination.
“I can confirm that the tenure charges have been filed with the state Department of Education’s Office of Controversies and Disputes,” agency spokesman Michael Yaple said in an email. The Department of Education has 10 days to determine if the charges will go to an arbitrator, and is currently in that review period, Yaple said.
A local news report also claimed that Berckes has filed an ethics complaint with the state’s School Ethics Commission, alleging that sometime between Berckes’ suspension and the Aug. 6 vote a parent heard Board President Jack McStowe tell a teacher something negative about Berckes.
Yaple was not able to confirm or deny that, saying the state’s policy is to not confirm ethics charges until an action has been taken.
David Castellani, a lawyer for Berckes, was unavailable for comment.
Montesano first suspended Berckes in April over an incident in which a student allegedly brought marijuana and a knife to school. She reportedly had an issue with how Berckes handled the incident, but he said he had followed orders from a school resource officer.
The tenure charges came after the district approved a principal transfer for Berckes to Clarendon School, and after he issued a notice of intent to sue the board for $5 million over the summer.
The next board meeting is set for Thursday night, Aug. 23, at Huber Street School at 7 p.m.

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