E-Mail Reveals Principal & Business Administrator Knew Out-Of-Town Relative Was To Be Tuition-Free

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Published: March 29, 2016 @ 12:00 PM EDT

In reviewing over one hundred pages of emails received through Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests, Roselle Park News has obtained an e-mail conversation between Roselle Park School District (RPSD) Business Administrator Sue Guercio and Robert Gordon School Principal Frances Kenny that reveals they both were aware that the principal’s relative – who lives out-of-district – was to attend Robert Gordon School under the classification of tuition-free. Public schools are tuition-free for students whose family or legal guardian(s) live in a municipality but those students who go to a public school where they do not live are charged a tuition.

The correspondence, dated May 26, 2015, has Principal Kenny requesting her secretary to ask Mrs. Guercio for the list of choices to have her relative put into Genesis, the district’s student / staff / administration database program. The response from Sue Guercio to Principal Kenny – with no copy to anyone else – is ‘Tuition free – child of a teaching staff member’.

Though the name of the person referred to is redacted, several actions were taken to confirm the identity. First, an OPRA request was submitted to ask for any other agreements for out-of-district students whose family would agree to pay tuition for the 2015-16 school year. A response was returned to the newspaper that no other such contracts existed. Subsequently, Roselle Park News investigated to confirm when registration for the 2015-16 school year was and verified that it was in April of 2015, a month before the e-mail. With no other students going to Robert Gordon School, let alone the district, who needed to have their Genesis coding determined due to a relation to a staff member, the only person Principal Kenny could have been inquiring about was her relative.

This investigation was precipitated by an anonymous letter received by Jacob Magiera as a member of The Concerned Citizens Of Roselle Park in November of last year claiming that a relative of Principal Kenny was going to Robert Gordon tuition-free. He met with the principal in her office and – when asked about the letter and its validity – Principal Kenny confirmed it was true. That led to months of investigation which resulted in the initial news story last month and this subsequent article.

The newspaper has also discovered through sources that the coding from ‘tuition-free’ to ‘paid’ was made in Genesis after Mr. Magiera asked if there was an out-of-district child going to a Roselle Park school tuition-free. Even after the coding was changed, no payment was made – nor apparently sought – for months until after an OPRA request was submitted asking for proof of payment in January of this year. Yet another OPRA request revealed that Principal Kenny’s son – a vice principal in North Arlington – and his wife paid the remainder of the $13,874.00 tuition in full on February 22, 2016 for their child to attend Robert Gordon School.

When reached for a comment, Mrs. Guercio stated that – by law – matters involving students or their families cannot be publicly discussed.

At this point, an in-depth internal investigation should be conducted by the Board of Education. When the investigation is concluded, the findings should be made available to the public in a detailed report.

Below is a copy of the e-mail chain in its entirety as provided to Roselle Park News.

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