Freehold Regional High School Board of Education President Heshy Moses thought discussion about the Breyer State University scandal that has clouded the district for the past four years was over, but public dissenters disagree. At the Monday, Nov. 29 meeting of the Board of Education, several members of the public expressed their opinion about the diploma-mill incident, saying that the reparations are not enough.
At the Board of Education meeting on Monday, Nov. 15, President Moses announced that - a refund of the tuition paid and stipends she earned from receiving a doctorate degree from the non-accredited Breyer State University. Evangelista has until 2016 to refund the money to the district.
Evangelista was one of several employees of the FRHS district to earn a degree from BSU in 2007, however, she is currently the only employee still working in the district who has one. Therefore, Evangelista is the only diploma recipient asked to refund the money the district spent on her unofficial degree. Moses announced at the last Board meeting that an expensive legal procedure would have to be fought in order to regain funds from prior employees.
Last night, Moses said that when he and Board Member Carl Accettola met with the State Comptroller, they were advised that the district could not demand a refund of the money from Evangelista, they could only request that the sum be returned. A formal letter was drafted to Evangelista and she agreed to reimburse the district.
The Board Attorney said that the correspondence with Evangelista and the Board is a personnel matter and the conversation between the Board and the Assistant Superintendent about the reimbursement is confidential.
Marlboro resident Jim Sage was not satisfied with this response and confused as to how the records would not be public information or a payroll matter, but the Board remained silent on advice of counsel.
Gloria Close, a resident of Manalapan, was displeased with the five year time period given to Evangelista to pay back the money. “Isn’t it an insult to the taxpayers to wait five years to get paid back, when in fact the County Superintendent took the doctorate away so long ago?” Close asked. “It is just common decency that the money should be paid back as soon as possible.”
“I thought that this was over now, that we’re getting the money back, that it would be closed, but you still find the fly in the ointment and I don’t know if we’d ever be able to satisfy you,” Moses said, in response to Close’s comments.
Leon Sirulnick, also a Manalapan resident, echoed Close’s statements and stated, “it’s not over until it’s over.” Sirulnick said that the resolution to the Breyer State University scandal is unsatisfactory because Evangelista makes over $155,000 and she only has to pay a small sum over five years.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s a penalty to Ms. Evangelista and it doesn’t sound like a satisfactory response to us,” Sirulnick said.