By Jaclyn Mandelbaum
At a January 26 Freehold Regional High School District Board of Education meeting, angered residents spoke out about the various cost that the community has been incurring due to what they believe is poor monetary decision-making skills on behalf of Dr. James Wasser, the district’s superintendent. The Freehold Regional High School district is comprised of Marlboro, Manalapan, Freehold, Freehold Borough, Colts Neck, and Howell Township.
Residents questioned the appropriateness of Wasser’s car of choice, provided to him by the district. He has been supplied with a leased luxury sports-utility-vehicle to use for business. Angered residents spoke out at the January meeting, and said that Wasser has already deprived several townships of enough money to begin with.
Residents found out in prior months that Wasser was using tax dollars to obtain a doctorate degree from an online degree-mill. Angered by this happening, residents demanded that Wasser return the money that they believe, should have been put towards the various high schools. He declined this request, and legally is not obliged to return the money.
The new vehicle was just the icing on the cake for resident Gloria Close. She demanded to be informed of the total cost that Wasser has inflicted upon citizens. Between tuition costs, salary adjustments, adjustment to his pension, and now a brand new car, Freehold Regional residents are still waiting on a total figure, Close said.
Another meeting attendant argued that in the state of our current economy, a less expensive car would have sufficed. She questioned whose interest Wasser is looking out for. She said that his behavior is selfish, considering the district just incurred large budget cuts. The money that is going to Wasser’s automobile could be used to reinstate programs that had been cut from various schools, due to lack of funding, she argued.
Michael Fishman spoke out about an additional cost to the district, due to the degree-mill controversy. Board of Education members felt public meetings are now “high risk” because of the large turnouts of disgruntled residents. The board hired two police officers to attend all meetings. Fishman said that this is yet another “unnecessary cost” that could have been put towards school programs.
Any monetary expenditure that the board makes is being looked at under a microscope. Outspoken citizens for months have been reprimanding Wasser for his admitted wrong-doings.
While such topics were up for discussion, Wasser got up from his seat and exited the meeting for a short period of time. At the conclusion of the meeting he addressed everyone and said, “I sat here for 8 months listening to people come to the microphone about the same things over and over again and I understand your concern. I don’t agree with you totally. I don’t like to be yelled at or defamed in public, but I think I have done a fair job of accepting it.” In regards to the future, he continued, “I will finish my contract. I made an obligation and obligation to this board. I have other things I would like to do before I leave. This is a great school district, and when I leave it will be great. Stop what you are doing. We have things to do and we are listening to the same thing about the superintendent.”