Manasquan's school board president on Wednesday said she was "deeply disturbed" over a complaint filed by a board member with Manasquan police that alleged "ongoing harassment" from a member appointed just Tuesday night.
President Michelle LaSala said she wants to call a special board meeting after it came to light that board member Christine Muly filed a complaint against new member Mike Shelton after he called for her resignation in a letter (attached to this story) to the school board attorney, written before he took his oath of office. That complaint was forwarded to the county prosecutor's office, which has determined that Shelton was within his rights to send the letter.
Shelton on June 4, roughly three weeks before taking a seat on the board, sent an email to board Attorney R. Armen McComber with an attached document requesting Muly either step down on her own terms or she would be named in civil and criminal complaints and ethics charges as a Board of Education member, according to documents contained in the official police report.
The documents show that McComber on June 5 forwarded the email to Superintendent Geraldine Margin, who provided the correspondence to Muly on an unspecified date. On June 12, Muly brought her complaint to Manasquan police, the report says.
The next day Detective Sgt. Jacob T. Kleinknecht, who investigated the complaint, contacted John Loughrey of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Special Prosecutions Unit, who said that Muly, as a board member, was "subject to public scrutiny" and that Shelton's actions were legal and "in his rights to do so," the report says.
Muly, reached by telephone Wednesday, said she had no comment regarding the complaint. Margin, also reached Wednesday, also declined to comment on the report.
LaSala indicated she was "deeply disturbed" by Muly's filing, but added that she could not comment further until she spoke with the board at large.
"I am deeply disturbed by the information that I just received. I really do not wish to make any statements at this time, it would not be appropriate until I meet with the entire board, and we may be holding a special meeting. I will notify you as soon as I know if that's going to happen," LaSala said by telephone Wednesday.
Muly, according to the report, told police that Shelton's June 4 email stemmed from a past incident in which she allegedly spoke to Manasquan Elementary School Principal Colleen Graziano regarding several children she had allegedly photographed vandalizing property and asked the principal to identify the kids.
Shelton's e-mail to McComber indicates that Graziano's "involvement in the identification of minors related to Mrs. Muly's undue influence as a board of education member will be highlighted, publicized and sanctions will be sought."
Graziano could not be reached Wednesday evening.
McComber, reached by telephone Wednesday, said he had not seen the police report, adding that the matter was not related to school board business and, therefore, he could not comment directly.
"Strictly speaking it's really not matters related to business of the Board of Education, and I certainly understand I have two board members who have some issues with each other but hopefully we can move past that," McComber said.
Shelton on Wednesday said he never harassed Muly, who from her post as board president in January citing harassment from unnamed board members, and added that the police report is proof he did nothing wrong.
"For the last year I have questioned actions and inactions of this board. It's unfortunate that while Mrs. Muly apparently took some suggestions or criticism as harassment, but it clearly didn't rise to the level of warranting police attention, and the statements from the Prosecutor's Office vindicates me for that," Shelton said.
Shelton declined to comment on specific concerns he raised over what he described as "official misconduct."
Loughrey's secretary at the County Prosecutor's Office on Wednesday said he was out until Friday and that she could not find any pending or open investigation with either Shelton's or Muly's name attached to it. She added, however, that it did not necessarily mean an investigation was not working its way through the system.
Muly, while declining to comment on the report, said she had no intentions at this time of stepping down from her post on the board.
"As of right now I'm looking forward to working with everybody — our new board members and all," Muly said.