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Westwood School Board Plans Another Closed Meeting to Discuss Zoeller

The Westwood Regional Board of Education is investigating Superintendent Geoffrey Zoeller after he took home a district-owned truck and generator and left them there while on vacation.

The Westwood Regional Board of Education is scheduled to hold another closed meeting this week to discuss Superintendent Geoffrey Zoeller.

The board will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday and "immediately enter into closed Executive Session for the purpose of discussion of Personnel/Superintendent of Schools," according to a post on the district's website. The board also held closed meetings before and after their last public meeting to discuss Zoeller.

Board members are not permitted to discuss personnel issues unless the employee waives his right to privacy.

Many Westwood and Washington Township residents were angry that Zoeller had taken a district-owned truck and generator home for Hurricane Sandy and left them there while he was away on vacation in Florida.

Zoeller apologized at the board's last public meeting, but many residents were still upset. Westwood Education Association President Barry Albert also called for Zoeller to step down because the union voted 222-19 in having "no confidence" in Zoeller's ability to lead the district with integrity.

Board of Education President Carol Mountain previously said they would only take action during a public meeting.

Zoeller has apparently been laying low recently, and rumors have circulated that he was forced to take a leave of absence. Zoeller denied the rumors in an email to Patch and wrote that he was "taking some vacation time."

The board's next public meeting is scheduled for December 20. No agenda has been posted for the meeting yet.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Jim Leggate at Jim.Leggate@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Louie December 13, 2012 at 02:19 PM
I heard there is a public BOE meeting tonight also..
Louise Miller December 13, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Hardknocks, they are wide awake... and have been. Taxpayers & parents NEED to make the time to get to the BOE Meeting next week and no matter what occurs we ALL need to keep paying attention! If we go back to only worrying about what effects us each personally it is guaranteed there will be just more of the same to come!!! History seems to repeat itself when we start forgetting the mistakes of the past.
Joanne Stutzer December 13, 2012 at 03:18 PM
PLEASE get the name correct before you post. It is not Certo, it is Cerco.
Shannon Donnelly December 13, 2012 at 03:27 PM
It was one thing before Sandy when residents of Westwood and Washington Township had only heard bits and pieces of rumors about the behavior of Zoeller and his cronies, and the blame for that behavior is squarely on him. But now that so much of this dirt has come to light, and the info is no longer just bits and pieces but has been proven, it's now on the residents of these two towns to get rid of these parasites. It's the whole "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me," theory. These people have now been exposed for the manipulators and criminals that they are, and it's now up to all the residents of these towns, and not just the parents of students, to act on this information. BOE members are elected to represent the community; do you really have faith in them anymore? The easiest thing to do would be to stick your head in the sand, and letting the BOE members do the same and wait for this whole mess to blow over. Getting out of the contract they signed with Zoeller this past summer will be difficult, but not impossible. But the BOE members are only going to do that if you, the residents, put some serious pressure on them. The whole state of NJ is watching your town to see how this mess will be handled.
Shannon Donnelly December 13, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Stand up for yourselves, your community, and your children and make us proud by getting rid of these bullies. Every school in NJ now has a zero-tolerance policy for the children when it comes to bullying; this also has to apply to administrators. Be the example you want your children to see, because believe you me, they are watching you.
Westwoodian since '91 December 13, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Liddy, Hanlon and Mountain do not make up a majority so there are other "partners in crime".... I think Koch, Gregory and Schaadt need to be added to list of folks that need to go. As a community, we need to find good candidates to replace these folks over the next few years.
Louie December 13, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Special Board of Education Meeting 12/13/2012 Go To Calendar Print Export. Description The Westwood Regional Board of Education will hold a Special Meeting at 6 P.M. in the Hurley Theatre and immediately enter into closed Executive Session for the purpose of discussion of Personnel/Superintendent of Schools.
Louise Miller December 13, 2012 at 06:11 PM
You've got that one right Shannon! Very often the thought crosses my mind that some of these people certainly need the anti-bullying classes more than most of the kids. We need to teach our kids how to stand up for themselves when necessary, bullies are just people with more insecurity within themselves than the average person - at least most of the time...
Bus Stop Talk December 14, 2012 at 03:13 AM
The BOE knew what and who they were hiring and then paid him extremely well to do what they wanted him to do. Somebody on the BOE wants things to be the way they were under Zoeller and Co. Do you really think that Zoeller acted this way without the approval of those who hired him? Two problems, they didn't expect Sandy to ruin their plans and Zoeller's ego to run out of control on them, so much so that they could cover his butt any more. The principal pay thing is a typical Zoeller move. It forces the new principal into his arms because when it is costing the taxpayers $8,000, the new principal will have no friends and will have to turn to Zoeller. If you take Zoeller's money, you have to do what he wants you to do.
Bus Stop Talk December 14, 2012 at 03:15 AM
I can't even grasp the stupidity displayed by Cerco with the book thing. It has been said that he was handing out is business cards for the book and the first year teacher orientation.
Bus Stop Talk December 14, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Shannon, you are correct. The BOE knew exactly what they were getting with this man. I would venture to say that they wanted a person just like that, who would be passed over by other more reputable schools for the very reasons he was hired at Westwood. They wanted this guy but he went too far and now they got what they never expected. It is what they deserve, though.
Bus Stop Talk December 14, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Again, they want bullies in the district to run all over subordinates. That gives the BOE the control they want. Any truth to the rumor that Cerco had his secretary type his book for him?
Shannon Donnelly December 14, 2012 at 05:04 AM
It may be what the BOE deserves, but the children and the teachers deserve better. There's a huge spectrum of feelings toward teachers, from people hating them to people treating them like saints, and everything in between. But regardless of that, Zoeller treats the teachers in his district, whatever district he's in, like crap. I knew him when he was teaching, and when he landed his first job as principal at UCVTS. Overnight he forgot it what it's like to be in the classroom and began to treat teachers like idiots. Low morale among teachers directly affects their ability to teach your children effectively.
Hardknocks December 14, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Article in the Record says no action has been taken. The board seems to be dragging this out in hopes the flames die down. Shannon, I applaud you for getting involved. I'm sure this is not easy for you. The media cannot say anything until the victims come forward. The list is long but it only takes one. There are non tenured teachers that were harassed, students that have graduated. I know of one young lady that graduated but her younger brother is still in the system. Not many people are willing to stick their necks out.
Hardknocks December 14, 2012 at 12:25 PM
The victims need support from the other teachers and supervisors. If they feel safe from any backlashe they may come forward. McCourt could do wonders for his career if he was to offer protection for teachers,employees and students. Come on Rory, man up!
Hardknocks December 14, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Cerco's pen name is Andrew Intesso.Voicemail Receved- Silence is Deafening is the title.
Hardknocks December 14, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Sorry I forgot the board cannot vote in a private session. We'll have to wait until next week.
Westwoodian since '91 December 14, 2012 at 02:48 PM
@Bus Stop Talk - Please stop throwing our new principal, Dr. Certo, under the bus. You're assuming that he's in Zoeller's pocket already and I've seen no evidence of that. He's a good man and I believe he has a great relationship with the teachers at the high school. Let's not turn this into a witch hunt where the innocent are caught up with the guilty.
David A. Cole December 14, 2012 at 07:09 PM
As an interested Alumnus that has been following the proceedings, I am personally not in favor of firing Dr. Zoeller. I could see his point of view of conflicting bylaws, as I had been a victim of a bylaws dispute myself a few years ago. Bylaws from my experience can be quite confusing at times. What the board should really focus on is taking the necessary steps of closing the loopholes in the existing bylaws, and that Dr. Zoeller should have asked permission of the board on whether he could have borrowed school equipment or not. Given this, Dr. Zoeller should still be punished in my opinion by forfeiting 2 weeks of salary, and those monies would go to help the victims of Superstorm Sandy. Keep in mind, that Dr. Zoeller would be on a very short leash going forward. Please also keep in mind that my opinion on this topic does not necessarily reflect the view of all alumni of the Westwood Regional School District, and that I am just a mere omniscient observer from afar. Thank you for your time, and thank you to the current board of education members that serve on the board. Respectfully Submitted, David A. Cole, WHS Class of 1980
Louise Miller December 14, 2012 at 10:20 PM
David, With all due respect just so you know-ALL of the School's Bylaws were reviewed and updated recently. It was one of the first duties the BOE gave this Superintendent and then they were reviewed & approved by the Board. School Bylaws have to adhere to the State's Laws. When the Laws change, the Bylaws need to be updated. From personally experience I know the State has had to force Zoeller's hand to update a Bylaw when a Law had been changed a full year earlier AND on then again the State had to force Zoeller's hand to adhere to another Bylaw. I agree, Laws/Bylaws are confusing, that being said, "Dr." Zoeller is a smart man, he is aware of what he does. On top of that, if there is a question on a legal matter he has an attorney on hand, employed by the District, that he can call for assistance if needed. If this was the first infraction on his part the community would not be in such an uproar-this is an ongoing problem. As a 1984 graduate of PVHS in Hillsdale myself, I understand where you are coming from-WHS has come a LONG way. The community wants the District to retain it's integrity . It was a long difficult road for our Administrations & Teachers, some of them no longer with us, many of them Alumni such as yourself. TRUST is an imperative factor in all of this, that trust has been broken yet again. As an Alumnus of WWRSD you would well know more "Black Clouds" hanging over our schools not only hurts the students but also the residents of these 2 towns.
Hardknocks December 15, 2012 at 01:16 PM
David, As you stated you are viewing this from afar.Sincehe has been in this position he has shown nothing but disdain and arrogance. He doesn't believe rules pertain to him,he's above that. He fired good teachers and successful coaches. He is a dictator with way too much power and a board that looks at him like the second coming. He has a history dating back to past postions. These will eventually come out and itwill another black eye to our district. Paying the former principal $8,000.00 because he didn't know the rules is an act of arrogance. He should repay the district for that blunder. Why should we, the taxpayers? Bottom line it's time for a change. It's obvious he is not the guy to take the district to the next level. Our real estate values are influenced by the district's ranking. We have taken a bath in recent years. With what we pay in school taxes we should be a top 20 school or better. Botton line he must go!
Adam Sandy-ler December 16, 2012 at 01:24 AM
With all due apologies to the great Adam Sandler, who inspired me. "ZOELLER SCREWED YA" The generator, the hurricane. Oh, the insult and the pain. Westwood in the dark as Zoeller stole it from ya. But he will be a thing of the past If the Board makes a decision that'll last. And you'll stand up and shout, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" Zoeller screwed ya. But we're through ya. 'Cause we're Wesssstttttt wwwooooooddddd! HAPPY HOLIDAYS, Everybody! See you on the 20th.
Adam Sandy-ler December 16, 2012 at 02:37 PM
asfawegw, what are you, some kind of shallow f----- material girl? Go find another blog, you dim wit!
Adam Sandy-ler December 16, 2012 at 02:37 PM
"CERCO STUCK IT TO YA" The scandal and innuendo Porno by Andrew Intesso Westwood in disbelief as Cerco stuck it to ya But he got out of there pretty fast A suspension that is sure to last And you'll stand up and shout, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" Cerco stuck it to ya But the ladies saw through ya "Cause they're Wesssstttttt wwwooooooooddddd!
Adam Sandy-ler December 16, 2012 at 03:00 PM
"WE'LL STICK IT TO YA" C. Mountain, P. Liddy, and crew On the 20th their decision is due Westwood waiting for them to give it to ya Let's hope they don't screw ya But don't be the first to get there last Come see what die will be cast And be sure to stand up and shout, "The wrong one and we'll stick it to ya!" "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" We'll be sure to stick it to ya 'Cause we see through ya We'll stick it to ya Come election time! Come election time!
Enraged Parent December 18, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Its great to see so much anger and energy about Zoeller and Cerco on this blog, but now what?? This energy has to be challenged into change and making things better. There are 2 people in "acting" roles replacing Zoe and Cer, they should know how you feel!! Yes, I will be attending the meeting, but I also want to let people know, this isnt one bad incident for each of them, Zoe and Cer have been aggressive, evil, angry, misguided bullies for years!! That needs to be heard!! Tell your story and add your voice to the chorus. Let's make our school system known for good, intelligence, friendliness.... not a terror reign!!
Westwoodian since '91 December 18, 2012 at 08:35 PM
I know we all want an answer on Thursday night, but I doubt that will happen. Nothing moves quickly when it comes to removing ANYONE in education. We have to be patient... yeah, I know, we want it taken care of now, but let's make sure that it's done properly and fairly. If not, we are no better than those we wish to remove.
andromeda December 24, 2012 at 04:46 AM
The cure for this disease is 1-All BOE meetings, work sessions and formal meetings, need to be voluntarily made open to the public. The Board should agree to having those sessions audiotaped,videotaped, and broadcast on community TV. (Come on people! There should be no hesitation from any board member on this.)Those unedited tapes should be kept at the local library, not the BOE office. 2-All public sessions should be VOLUNTARILY broadcast on community TV.All local towns do this, flip thru the channels, you'll see. 3-There is a very narrow definition of what is to be discussed privately. BOE members need to become familiar with this (I'm sure they already are) and honor it (which they currently don't). Then they must inform us when it can become public. 4-Stop having private retreats to discuss public business, it just looks bad! 5-Stop editing the minutes! Our minutes are heavily edited. Release them to the public in a timely fashion and keep them at the library, not the BOE office. 6-Use technology to keep the community informed and connected. Participation will become easier and more convenient for us all. (No matter what they say publicly about community involvement, 7 BOE members will fight this tooth and nail, they don't want anyone to know what goes on.)
andromeda December 24, 2012 at 04:53 AM
7-Get new lawyers across the board, the ones we use appear to be giving some seriously poor advice. Consider going back to the large, NJ law firm that is well respected across the state, the one we used to use. Not the cronies Zoeller brought in. 8- Develop a community watchdog organization 9-Enlist the help of the many volunteer open government advocates in our state to work with us to help us enact these changes. It's for our own protection!!! Lets work together to redeem the good name of our communities and the many good people who live here!
andromeda December 24, 2012 at 05:01 AM
I forgot 10 10- If the Board continues to have retreats, everything listed above applies to their retreats. That is minutes available to public, videotaping, audiotaping, public disclosure, etc. , etc., etc.,


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