Longtime school board member Jonathan Hodges is facing ethics charges for his criticism of the superintendent search process. Hodges shared a video alleging the search process was “corrupt” and took aim at assemblyman Benjie Wimberly.
Wimberly is a district employee. He is also a member of the Paterson Education Association (PEA). The teachers’ union filed the ethics charges against Hodges on Wimberly’s behalf, according a source.
John McEntee, Jr., president of the Paterson Education Association (PEA), did not respond to requests for comment.
Hodges declined to comment. He said he does not want negative press coverage ahead of next week’s vote at the state board of education to return local control to the city’s school board. When pressed, Hodges remarked, “I’m going to respond, trust me. But, I’m not going to put the district in jeopardy.”
“I don’t know anything about it,” said Wimberly on Wednesday night when asked about the ethics charges against Hodges. He did not respond to a call for comment on Friday morning.
Wimberly works as recreation coordinator for $135,000, according to public payroll data.
Hodges criticized the search process. He continued to do so a day after superintendent Eileen Shafer was appointed. He was the sole vote against. On Feb. 15, Hodges shared a video, where Wimberly introduced Shafer as the next superintendent, long before the vote.
“I have hopefully, if we’re in the right direction, our next superintendent Eileen Shafer,” Wimberly says in the video.
It’s typical for politicians to introduce someone as the next president, governor, or mayor. Shafer at the time was in the running to be the next superintendent. However, some of the critics of the search process used the video to cast doubt on the integrity of the process.
“A corrupt search process delivers as the city dances,” Hodges wrote the day after the vote on social media. He wrote “Team wins again” – an allusion to Wimberly’s “Team Hope.”
Hodges allegedly mentioned Wimberly by name in one of his critical postings, according to sources. That posting could not be found on Friday.
Hodges has been the subject of ethics charges in the past. In 2003, his then-colleague Juan “Mitch” Santiago filed an ethics complaint against him for approving a payment of bills that issued a check to a pre-school in which Hodges had an interest.
Hodges told the state he inadvertently voted to approve the payment of bills without knowing the content of the resolution. He was reprimanded by the state.
The teachers’ union also has pending ethics charges against school board member Emanuel Capers. He is accused of breaking the school board ethics code for sharing a video that shows a teacher, who resigned, verbally attacking her students.
Capers does not view the charges against him as a credible.
The School Ethics Commission could not release the complaint on Friday until “it first takes action at a public meeting to determine probable cause, or violation, or until the matter is settled, withdrawn or dismissed.”
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