Letter was misleading and political

| 08 Mar 2012 | 01:28

    Three weeks ago, the Board of Education voted to retain April school board elections. I supported this resolution, in part because I feared a move to November and its partisan ballot would expose the schools to the kind of embarrassingly ugly, patronage-driven politics that characterize our local and state elections.

    Little did I realize that we would soon face such dangerous nonsense nonetheless.

    The first salvo came in a letter to the editor submitted to several local publications by Doris Aaronson. In it, Dr. Aaronson — a former officer in the West Milford Democratic Club with no apparent insight whatsoever into our schools or the board of education — is highly critical of my colleague Matt Conlon while praising fellow board member John Aiello and urging his re-election.

    This disturbing letter is absolute rubbish in every respect.

    It is based upon misleading talking points, likely prepared by others, and suspiciously appears to be repayment of a political debt to John Aiello over the recent election of Ada Erik to the township council.

    Its treatment of Matt Conlon is disrespectful and unfair. The high praise for Mr. Aiello completely ignores his actual, well-documented record on the board (obviously unknown to Aaronson) which includes repeated disregard for statutes and regulations, unnecessary and improper interference in the administration of the district, opposition to the budget, derogatory references to various stakeholders and several impractical and costly suggestions, including closing the Paradise Knoll school.

    This is not the profile of a “leader” (Dr. Aaronson’s word) or even a person who deserves a seat on the board. Mr. Aiello came to office with a clear personal agenda and an attitude of mistrust and disrespect for state public school officials, our administrators and the board itself. After three years, he has learned nothing and persists in unproductive behaviors that waste considerable amounts of administrative and board time as well as your tax dollars.

    Thank goodness we have a choice at the polls next month. Inga Koeppe and Kevin Babbitt are everything that John Aiello is not: thoughtful, articulate, respectful of all stakeholders, able to listen to and work with others and, most importantly, not burdened with a toxic and inflexible agenda.

    Inga and Kevin have a total of five wonderful kids in our schools, while Mr. Aiello sends his youngest to an out-of-town parochial school. They are actively-engaged parents who strongly support their local school communities.

    We must recognize, however, that their election is far from certain. Doris Aaronson has shown us that a seat on the school board is nothing more than a political chit to some people in town. Yes, oversight of our kids’ education is now something to be traded for prior political favors and mudslinging. How sad.

    We must mobilize parents and others concerned for the educational welfare of our children to overcome the petty politics poised to swallow our schools.

    Please join me in this fight. Thanks again for allowing me the honor and privilege of serving you as a member of the West Milford Township Board of Education.

    Wayne Gottlieb Vice President, West Milford Township Board of Education

    The opinions expressed are solely those of Gottlieb, not those of the West Milford Township Board of Education.