Live From Asbury Park

Here’s a timeline for Asbury Park Schools Superintendent Antonio Lewis, recently in the news after an Administrative Law Judge ruled that tenure laws mandate that the district must give him a job as a principal:

1999: Hired as Superintendent after serving as Principal of Asbury Park Middle School from 1992-1999.
2003: Suspended by School Board for inefficiency because he failed to exercise leadership, supervision, or management. Board presses tenure charges.
2004: Charges dismissed by Education Commissioner William Librera because, while he agreed with the Board’s judgment, it failed to provide Lewis with “written notice of the inefficiency and according him 90 days to improve his performance.” Superior Court Judge Lawrence Lawson also rules that the school board showed “a blatant disregard” for the Open Public Meetings Act while they tried to oust Lewis.
2004: Lewis reinstated at salary of $188,000. School Board (mostly new members) signs a multi-year contract with Superintendent Lewis.
2006: School Board tries to buy out Lewis’s contract for $600,000. State stops buy-out and Board again suspends Lewis at full pay. NJ DOE sends in “intervention team” to determine the cause for Asbury Park’s continued low student performance. DOE Director of Communications Katherine Forsyth explains, “They have not been able to make simple decisions.”
2007: State DOE begins investigation of Lewis’ “central office operations.”
2008: Board pays Lewis $169,500 to settle his suit against it for the 2003 suspension. A performing arts teacher at Asbury Park High School is fined $50,000 after she makes a personal call to Lewis while covering for another teacher in a classroom and the students make a video of their dance party, conducted in full view of the teacher. The students post the video on youtube. (Here's the video.)
2008: Acting School Superintendent James T. Parham admits that he paid $3,000 to receive an M.A. in special education from Alameda University in Idaho. His scholarship consisted of composing a resume and writing a 2-3 page paper. Seven months after receiving the degree he was appointed Acting Superintendent at a salary of $110,620.
2009: Lewis' contract expires. He sues the district to get his principal’s job back since he had been awarded tenure in that position.
June 21, 2010: Administrative Law Judge Ronald W. Reba rules Asbury Park “must give him a job for which he is qualified along with pay and benefits dating back to July 1 of last year when his superintendent's contract ran out.”

Quick overview of Asbury Park School District: 2,202 students in 5 schools. Comparative Cost per pupil: $24,428. High School academic achievement: 66.4% of juniors and senior fail the High School Performance Assessment (HSPA). 79.1% fail the Math HSPA.