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Jefferson School Board Member Resigns

Judy Castiglione cites lack of support for substance abuse initiatives, unprofessional behavior.

Jefferson Township Board of Education member Judy Castiglione resigned her position at Tuesday night’s regular monthly meeting. After tendering her resignation in mid-meeting, Castiglione abruptly left, not waiting until the meeting ended.

“It is with a broken heart that I tell you that as of tonight I will be resigning,” Castiglione said, citing as her main reason the lack of implementation of projects suggested by the ad hoc committee on substance abuse, which she headed.

“The ad hoc committee has come up with many great suggestions, some of them costing little or no money, and none of them have even been started,” she said.

Castiglione pointed to a list of tips and resources for parents that could be posted on the school’s web site.

“I’ve suggested this many times, and it wouldn’t cost anything to do, but yet it hasn’t been done,” she said in a phone interview with Patch following the meeting.

In addition, Castiglione said she had asked administration to have the high school’s video classes produce a public service announcement to be shown at back-to-school night, coming on Sept. 27. That project has not been undertaken.

Superintendent Joseph Kraemer said he had just learned of Castiglione’s intention to resign earlier in the day. “I have no comment at this time,” he said.

Castiglione also noted that she was “slammed” on nj.com for her position on the work load for seventh-grade students.

“I realize that I fought back and I shouldn’t have, but someone on that forum called my 23-year-old son a dirtbag,” she said. “That’s just unacceptable.”

Finally, Castiglione said she tried to reach an unnamed administrator last weekend and asked to spend some time speaking with him on Sunday, as she was leaving for a business trip on Monday. After the administrator answered two questions, his date texted her back that they were busy and she’d have to wait until Monday, Castiglone said.

“I found that to be very unprofessional,” she said.

“I love this district and many of the people I’ve worked with,” she said in parting. “But there are things I can’t support, and therefore I feel it’s time to resign. I hope to work on substance abuse more at the state level.”

Castiglione’s three-year term expires in December. Dora Zeno, the board business administrator, said the district has 65 days to fill the position. The board will accept letters from interested candidates, followed by interviews before selecting a new member.

“I don’t have any time frame yet as to when letters will be due to the district,” she said. “I just found out about this tonight, and I’m surprised. I will provide more information very soon.”

Catherine Richards September 19, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Hopefully she will now find more time to focus on her own children, who obviously need her a lot more. Parents are more effective dealing with the issues of their own family, when they stop attempting to police others children. Blaming a school, a town, a police department, a trend on anyone's problems, addictions, disorders is nothing less than an excuse to take one's own responsibility for their mistakes, faults and poor choices. This seems to be a continual problem in today's society, let's blame it on someone else. Too many parents have sowed these seeds in the lives of their children and we now have a society of young adults who will never step up to the plate and take full responsibility... Let's blame it on someone else. When will this vicious cycle ever end?
Lake Lover September 19, 2012 at 03:49 AM
I hope the issue of the 7th grade work load gets addressed. This concern needs a "top down" approach to be effective and awareness is the first step. Thank you!
Donna Sue September 19, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Sounds like there are quite a few issues in Jefferson Township School system period. That's where the focus should be on.. The school system maybe more people should speak up. i am a grandparent of a new 7th grader there, who has been telling me stories just about everyday, in 6th grade to now about the bullying going on. On the buses and in the school. Heck our neighbors moved away from here just to change schools because of the bulling. It's alarming. I too have heard of kids making their selves sick over the home work load. My grandchild being one of them! i personally don't think much of the only school my grandchild has to go to. I also hope the 7th grade workload is focused on, and the bulling and the drug issues. All those to me seems would be a high priority.. I have heard and seen adults bullying each other too. And children learn what they live.
Bugs Bunny September 19, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Catherine did it every cross your mind that she is trying to prevent other parents going through what she's been through my God what are you so bitter about. It could happen to anyone's kid no matter how great the parents are and how much they are there for them so lighten up and pray you never have to go through it.
rbuccino@live.com September 19, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Just a thought..... The students who complete all the work get A's and the students who don't get C's? Shouldn't most kids, by definition, be average (C-students)?
rbuccino@live.com September 19, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Regarding Ms. Castiglione, I don't know her personally, but it sounds like she is trying to help people. She is obviously very passionate about this topic.
karen helmstetter September 19, 2012 at 02:51 PM
It is hard to change the culture of educating our children. Schools try to do their best for the masses and by in large they do a sufficient job. However, it takes a long time to effectively make changes when your child does not fit into the normal scope of being educating. Parents run into far too many obstacles and are often treated as radicals. Every parent only wants to do best by their child and it takes courage to go up against the majority. Most parents will never appreciate the countless hours that other parents need to spend with various teachers, departments and boards of education just to give their child a fair shot at the educational pie. Instead of victimizing these parents, thank them for trying to buck the system so it is fairer for all. You never know when fate will force you to step up and try to effectively right a wrong.
Nancy September 19, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Judy - you were one of the most dedicated board members we ever had. It is unfortunate that you chose to resign but a person can only be knocked down so many times. You should be proud of all the time and dedication you gave to the children of Jefferson.
Peggy Sue September 19, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Catherine let me start by saying that addiction is a disease and it is not to be blame on anyone else. It can happen to anyone, it does not matter whether your child is a Straight A student or less, or whether you child is good in sports or how much time or support you give your child. It is disease just like cancer. Maybe with the education Catherine was trying to bring to the parents of Jefferson Township to understand this disease people would not be pointing the finger on other individuals.
Concerned Parent September 19, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Part 1of 2) I was very fortunate that I was able to remove my child from the Jefferson School System. It may have meant a part time job to help pay for another school, but I am confident I have done the correct thing. It concerns me that many of the children that my child would have gone through school with have been mentioned repeatedly in the AIMS action news for robbery, drugs, and weapon position. Not many from the graduating class were college bound and this is unfortunate. I currently, have younger family members attending, and the things they relay from the day’s school happenings were appalling. Hearing that sexual activity occurs on school grounds, along with drugs, and young kids with alcohol issues is horrible. This is just totally unacceptable. All the other kids seem to see it but not the adults that should be looking out for these types of situations. Listen, peer pressure is big, if you have a child that is a follower and not a leader they will fold. It is not in total the parent’s parenting skillsl.
Concerned Parent September 19, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Part 2) These schools have your kids for how many hours a day? Wake up people. I can recall the first time I attended a Board of Ed meeting where they were discussing the test scores. We fell into the 80%, when I raised the question to ask if there were anything put in place for the 20 percentile that did not do as well, the meeting went into closed session. No more meetings for me. After a visit to the school for concern on the grades I was seeing, I was told by the school’s guidance dept. that my child was probably not college material, not all children are. I nearly fell over. We strive to give and do whatever we have to as parents to make a better life for our child and that is the answer I received. My child is now in college no thanks to Jefferson school system, drug free, and a honor student. Amazing… so people you need to wake up something is wrong and they don’t care to address it. They might lose some state funding if they do the right thing. So let’s keep it going the way it is now. Have they ever checked how high the drug problem is in Jefferson, well my 14 yr old will tell you heroin is all over and the biggest thing around? Simply Sad. Good luck on fixing this broken school system.
Been there, done that September 19, 2012 at 11:51 PM
We should never look down our noses on anyone who volunteers for any organization. Many people complain about everything, yet we never see them at a meeting. Funny how that works. There is however an organization in town that provides multiple programs on drug and alcohol addiction. This organization works hand in hand with the four different PTA's as well as with concerned citizens and senior citizens. This organization is the Jefferson Township Municipal Alliance Committee for a drug free community. They meet the third Tuesday of the month at the municipal building. There are many things that are in need of attention in this system. If you have a gripe, go to a meeting, period.
Donna Sue September 21, 2012 at 12:02 PM
i agree. and likely less stressed out.

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