TOMS RIVER-A report in today’s Asbury Park Press revealed the Toms River School District is serious about learning who has been leaking confidential employment records to the media.
According to the report, the district has hired DAR Associates out of Beachwood to help identify the source of the leak.
The APP reported that the company was asked to be interviewed by the investigative firm, but declined the offer.
Confidential employment records were released by an unknown actor within the school district in an apparent attempt to smear the reputation of school district superintendent David Healy ahead of a possible contract extension being considered by the board majority.
The board made no comment on the investigation and did not reveal who if any of the board members are suspects in a violation that could lead to ethics charges being filed against that board member.
According to the New Jersey School Board Association’s board member code of ethics, school board members take an oath to, “Hold confidential all matters pertaining to the schools which, if disclosed, would needlessly injure individuals or the schools. In all other matters, I will provide accurate information and, in concert with my fellow board members, interpret to the staff the aspirations of the community for its school.”
Under New Jersey law, the Asbury Park Press is not required to disclose their news sources to a private investigator, or anyone else for that matter.
N.J. Statute § 2A:84A-21 states:
A person engaged on, engaged in, connected with, or employed by news media for the purpose of gathering, procuring, transmitting, compiling, editing or disseminating news for the general public or on whose behalf news is so gathered, procured, transmitted, compiled, edited or disseminated has a privilege to refuse to disclose, in any legal or quasilegal proceeding or before any investigative body, including, but not limited to, any court, grand jury, petit jury, administrative agency, the Legislature or legislative committee, or elsewhere
New Jersey’s shield law is designed to protect both journalists and their sources, that shield is rarely broken, even by the courts and prosecutors.