NJEA Calls For OCC Pres To Resign
The New Jersey Education Association is calling for the resignation of Ocean County College president Jon Larsen over what they allege is unethical practice awarding purchasing and procurement contracts.
The teachers union claims that the entire department was knowingly not following regulations for bidding.
“A number of contracts were being entered into by the college that were not for the lowest bidder or perhaps the most qualified bidder and the cost to the college and the tax payers was well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Says Chris Berzinski, a field representative for the NJEA.
Berzinski says his group made the allegations after a whistle blower came to them after witnessing the misappropriation. Joseph Rielly, a former purchasing manager for the university, was fired only months after receiving the position due to reorganization. However Berzinski says the reason for his termination had to do with Reilly witnessing and reporting the unethical behavior.
“What he was able to provide were repeated instances where he raised questions as to why certain contractors were being hired at a hirer cost. He also had numerous emails and memos where repeatedly he was questioning the practices and the college was telling him number one they’d take care of them which they didn’t and number two telling him basically to back off. “ says Berzinski.
This isn’t the first time the Union has targeted Dr. Larsen and OCC in the past, Berzinski notes that in the past the NJEA was at odds with the school over contract issues as well as claims of budget problems. Fundamentally he believes that Larson and the entire department should resign since there is no trust left.
“We don’t have faith that under his administration given the record of how this whole manner has been handled that the president or some of the other senior staff will be able to clean the mess.”
He also notes that though Larson is specifically mentioned in there campaign, “It targets the administration, it doesn’t just target president Larson though he bears a tremendous amount of responsibility. He is the CEO if the college and the buck does stop there.”
While the NJEA is pushing for the president to step down, Bezinski said he doesn’t necessarily expect Larson to do it, however regardless they will not give up.
“We will continue to request documents related to the contracting process in an effort to save money for the college which the administration doesn’t seem to be that concerned about.”
Ocean County College has responded to the allegations. In a written statement a spokesperson from the University said:
“This is more NJEA hogwash designed to unfairly discredit OCC after the nion rejected a fair and reasonable contract proposal by the College in September 2011. The NJEA is exploiting false and unfounded allegations made by a disgruntled former employee whose position was eliminated last year as part of a reduction in force that provided significant savings for the College, students and taxpayers. This former employee was not a member of the NJEA, which raises questions about the NJEA’s involvement in this issue.”
Adding that while the subject was in ongoing litication they would not be able to comment further.