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Cleared of Latest Charge

Israel Varela

“Let’s Bring it All Out in the Open”

PERTH AMBOYThe Amboy Guardian recently spoke to Board of Education Member Israel Varela. Superintendent Caffrey accused Varela of a new charge of not being a resident of Perth Amboy which would be a violation of a requirement to be on the Board of Ed. The Guardian wanted to know his reaction when he learned that he was cleared of this charge.

Caffrey had read a statement at the 4/25/13 Board of Education Meeting listing the charges against Varela. “I was not able to fully respond, but I went through the proper procedures and I was cleared of this charge made in the Superintendent’s statement,” Varela said.

Varela spoke about how bad he felt about the large number of personnel who are now retiring from the school system. Some of the individuals who retired he knew personally and they expressed to him their love of the community. The tension of the last couple of years was the determining factor of them leaving early.

Varela went on to say, “Just like with any large company, you hate to see senior staff leave because of their knowledge. You have heard speakers come up and talk about some of the new programs implemented. Sometimes the only new thing about these programs is that they are under a different name. Students are failing, but they keep testing them until they finally pass.”

“I was blindsided at the last Board Meeting when Caffrey read the accusation accusing me of not being a resident of Perth Amboy. As I said before, I have been here a very long time. And it is my choice as a parent to choose what school I thought was best for my child. The most important thing is that I was cleared by the State of this false accusation. As far as the other charges Caffrey made against me, I am still waiting for a decision.”

“The Superintendent has made accusations against other Board Members that need to be rescinded.”

Some of the other issues that Varela addressed was why at the last meeting that those who wanted to be heard during the public portion had to fill out a form. This included their name, address and what question they wanted to ask. “This is something that Caffrey wanted. Even other Board Members spoke out against this.”

Varela also questioned the big campaign contributions that came from outsiders to certain Board Members in the last School Board Election. “What interest do these outsiders have in the Perth Amboy School Board Election? I ran as an individual because I did not want to be tied to anyone. The City should not have control of the Board of Education. We can collaborate – but that’s it,” Varela said.

“I try to attend as many events as I can to support the students and I meet with my committees and any other meetings pertaining to the Board. Other than that, I like to spend my free time with my family.”

“Also, the Administrative Board ruled in the Board of Education’s favor when they suspended Superintendent Caffrey. Anytime that I enter any of the schools the administrators were told that they have to call Caffrey. Why are they doing this? The Superintendent does not make her decisions based on the community’s needs. During the public portion of the meeting, sometimes a speaker will feel as if some of the Board Members are not listening to them. I have to agree with them. When someone from the community speaks, Board Members should always pay attention.

The Amboy Guardian said, “You would often butt heads with the former Superintendent John Rodecker during the Board Meetings.”

Varela acknowledged that was true. “Under Rodecker, grades were slowly improving, but at the same time some of the Board Members thought the grades were not improving fast enough.”

“One thing that Rodecker and I always had in common, was that we always respected each other. He always communicated and gave documentation to Board Members. With Caffrey, when we started to butt heads she started to make accusations against some of the Board Members or staff.”

The Guardian asked Varela, “What other candidates were up for the Superintendent position after Rodecker announced his retirement?”

Varela answered that he knew there were Caffrey, Vivian Rodriguez and another woman that he could not remember her name. “It was the NJ School Board Association who found the candidates.”

“Caffrey’s job is just to make recommendations to the Board Members. I am hoping that residents look at those outsiders who are making big contributions to those running for office. I also feel that the full Board should be replaced plus Caffrey. She should go first,” Varela said.

“Any Board Member that is up for reelection should not run again. Let’s start with a clean slate. The phrase, “We’re doing this for the children,” is being overplayed when clearly in some cases it is not. This is not about Charter or Private Schools. It should be about Perth Amboy’s Public Schools.”

Varela said, “I always vote based on the information I received. As I’ve said before, tell me the name of any family member or friends that I have asked Caffrey to give them jobs. Tell them to come here in public. Do not try to blindside me. Let’s have a debate in public on public vs. private schools. Let’s invite the media to attend. Let’s bring in the individuals from out of state making large campaign contributions. Bring out the truth about the grades. Let’s bring it all out in the open.”

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