The second part of the complaint filed with the New Jersey School Ethics Commission against Joan Minnuies, alleges that Minnuies arranged for Middletown High School North students to receive credit for community service in exchange for "volunteering" at her granddaughters birthday party. Minnuies's granddaughter is the daughter of High School North coach, Jenna Minnuies Jackson, Joan Minnuies's daughter.
Both allegations are serious and it will be up to the ethics commission to decide on the appropriate punishment if they find that the allegations have merit. Punishments for ethics violations could range from a simple reprimand, a censorship of some type to be determined by the local BOE or removal from her position on the BOE.
Now let's backtrack a little bit.
Last week I ran into Vinnie Brand at the Harmony School "Meet the Candidates Night", I wanted to see for myself who was running and what they had to say. Vinnie saw me come in and pulled me off to the side and stated that he had something to speak to me about but he couldn't that night due to the circumstances of the event. We exchanged phone numbers and he said he would call me. That phone call never came until yesterday. I sent him a text stating how I could now assume what he wanted to talk about; he called me immediately.
I was on the phone with Brand, between two calls, for nearly 45 minutes yesterday, after which my head was spinning. If you've ever talked to the man you'd know what I mean. The conversations were fast, furious and dominated by Brand explaining himself and his actions for filing the complaint against Minnuies. Most, if not all, of what he said I couldn't disagree with after he explained himself.
Brand continued and added that Minnuies recently used Middletown High School North letterhead to send letters to parents, telling them of her many personal accomplishments as a BOE member and organizer of Project Prom.
When I questioned Brand about the timing of the ethics filing - that it seemed like a cheap campaign stunt designed to embarrass Joan and sway voter opinion against her a week before election day, he said that wasn't the case. He said that there had been many instances over the past few months when he thought about filing charges but didn't until after a September meeting of the BOE, when he had had enough of her behavior that he deemed offensive and unethical. He said his motives were not political and that he did not publicizes or announce to anyone that he had filed charges against her. He said that he had no idea how people found out about it, but it wasn't through him.
When I said to him that some are saying that he was in cahoots with current Middletown Board of Education President, James Cody, (who's up for reelection as well this year) against Joan Minnuies he flat out denied it. He said that as a member of the BOE, he informed Cody and the school board's attorney that he was filing ethics charges against Minnuies and that both were leery and advised against it.
I could go on further about what we talked about, but the bottomline is Brand is fully aware of what he did and he is unapologetic about it. As a father with children still in the school district, he knows full well that his kids my suffer some type of retribution for his actions in this matter. But he said someone needed to stand up to Joan Minnuies because so many others in and around the district are "petrified" of her because she can be a bully and isn't afraid to retaliate against someone if they cross her in someway.
Here's my two bits on the subject:
Over the years I've heard many stories about Joan Minnuies's conduct and actions as a BOE member from others, including former (and current) BOE members, former and current district teachers, guidance counselors and administrators, as well as, parents that take a good portion of their time to attend the rather long meetings (on school nights) of the Middletown Board of Education. Depending on whose stories you listen to or care to believe, you either love Joan or hate her; there are few that fall in-between.
For many reasons I personally don't care for the job Joan Minnuies has done as a member of the Middletown Board of Education. As the longest serving member of the BOE, I feel that she has become to accustomed to the position and feels entitled to it. Once any elected official begins to feel entitlement in any way, it's time for a change. My feelings have nothing to do with whether or not there is an ethical complaint filed against her. It's just time for a change.
If the New Jersey School Ethics Commission finds that Minnuies has indeed had lapses in ethical conduct detrimental to the local school board, then they will handle it appropriately. Until then, there's an election in several day and voters can determine for themselves what constitutes a lapse in ethics and whether or not the changes filed against her were for the good of the school district or just a political ploy.
It was previously stated that Jenna Minnuies Jackson was a teacher at Middletown High School North, she is not. Minnuies Jackson is a sports coach for the high school. Sorry if there was some confusion.