School board member Emanuel Capers is wrapping up a six-month suspension for an ethics violation case and expecting to return to the Board of Education in late April.
“I’m just looking forward to getting back to work,” said Capers, who has been suspended since late October 2020. “I do have some policies that I’m going to be committing to implement right away when I return.”
But there has been some confusion over his exact return date.
Superintendent Eileen Shafer sent a letter dated March 23 to Capers that says his return date is April 27. Her letter also outlines a training stipulation that must be meet before he can return.
“As a condition of your forthcoming reinstatement to the Board, you are required to complete the state-mandated training for school board members that is offered by the New Jersey School Boards Association, by April 27, 2021. Our records indicate that you have not completed this training to date,” reads the letter. “Please be sure to complete this training on or before April 27, 2021, and submit a confirmation to ensure your timely reinstatement.”
Capers said Shafer is “overstepping” her authority by setting a condition on his return.
“They are trying to threaten me. The state did not set any conditions,” said Capers. “I hope there’s no ill intent here. But everything they have in that letter is wrong. You can’t put conditions on my reinstatement. And your date is wrong as to when I get reinstated.”
Both the superintendent and school board president Kenneth Simmons defended the letter.
“Commissioner Capers was notified by the District in October that he needs to complete the NJSBA training, and he has yet to complete it. If he doesn’t complete it, the District will be cited in its review by the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC). This is a red flag that we can easily avoid as long as Commissioner Capers does his part, which I really hope he intends to do, especially since we just ended 30 years of state control,” said Shafer.
“We’re actually out of compliance because he hasn’t taken it,” said Simmons speaking of the training.
Capers said he usually completes the mandatory training towards the end of the year. All school board members are mandated to complete the training every year or face ethics charges. He was suspended before he could receive the training, he said. He said he intends to complete the mandatory training as soon as he is restored to the Board of Education.
Capers said his attorney was told by the state his return date is April 20.
“Emanuel Capers is suspended for 6 months from the date of the October 20, 2020 decision (April 20, 2021),” said Shaheed Morris, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Education, confirming the April 20 reinstatement date.
Capers was suspended by the state after a drawn-out ethics battle over his all-expense paid trip to Arizona in 2018. He continues to dispute the ethics violations against him and has filed an appeal to “clear” his name.
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