Toms River School District Blocks Release of School Board Investigation

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TOMS RIVER-Toms River residents may never know the findings of the investigation launched by the Clean Slate Democrats which cost taxpayers $16,000 to conduct last year.

2017 was a year filled with turmoil in the Toms River School District as Democrats battled Republicans for political and financial control of the district.   Board Democrats secretly launched an investigation which many felt was a political witch hunt intended to harm Republican board members who they accused of leaking confidential documents to the Asbury Park Press.

The board hired a Beachwood private investigative firm, DAR Associates to find out who leaked confidential employment records to the Asbury Park Press.  Those records included information used to smear Democrat backed Superintendent of Schools David Healy.

Democrats claimed the timing of the leaked documents was orchestrated to smear Healy ahead of a planned contract extension for the superintendent.

Clean Slate Team leader Ben Giovine has been accused by fellow board members of operating in secrecy, keeping non-aligned board members out of key decision-making processes, including his private investigation into board Republicans.

Last week, the district denied another request to make the findings of Giovine’s $16,000 wild goose chase public.

The Asbury Park Press has also criticized the Toms River School District for operating in secrecy after it refused to release emails last fall that documented the feud between Democrats and Republicans and the new levels of secrecy amongst board members, even calling the district’s denial, “unlawful”.

School officials are now claiming the investigation is a personnel matter and cited client-attorney privilege.   The district also denied a request to release financial reports detailing the true costs of the investigation, claiming there are no financial reports on file in regards to the investigation.

The board also refused to release email conversations between Giovine and board Attorney Stephan Leone.    The board has taken no actions in public in regards to the findings of the investigation.

The refusal was issued by School Board Secretary Wendy Saxton.