Jackson School Board Swears In New President, Leadership

Sharon Dey, center, was appointed as the newest member of the Jackson Township Board of Education. Scott Sargent, who served as board vice president, assumed the role of president while board member Vicki Grasso, left, was chosen as the new vice president. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

JACKSON – A new Board of Education member, new president and new vice president were among the actions taken during a combined meeting of the board.

Sharon Dey was appointed early in the meeting to fill the unexpired term vacated by Barbara Fiero, who resigned from the board during a meeting on July 18. Fiero served as president of the school board and resigned from the position after 10 years. Her resignation was effective July 20.

Dey’s term will end in January 2018. She is on the ballot in November for a seat at the board. She previously served on the board for nine years and has been an active member of the district’s Special Education Advisory Council. Dey said she is committed to being an advocate for all children and is interested in increasing the transparency of the board and improving education through sound fiscal and educational decisions.

Scott Sargent, who served as board vice president, assumed the role of president during the session. Sargent began his term on the board in January 2016 after previously serving as a member for three years.

Vicki Grasso was chosen as the new vice president of the panel. She started her first term on the board in January 2016. She is the parent of three school-aged children and is a strong supporter of the visual arts and has said she wishes it to remain a strong component of education in the district’s schools.

Among the presentations made during the evening included Clifford Menafra, the district’s director of security. He discussed statistics of bullying and violence within the 10 district schools. His review featured a report to the board as part of an annual review required by the state that tracks such incidents. Menafra said an anti-bullying bill of rights policy was being drafted and would be presented to the board for its approval.

Regarding incidents of violence and bullying, Menafra said the district was “consistent across the board” and had an incident level of equal or lesser number to districts across the state, though he noted that there were no comparisons made to neighboring districts in Ocean County.

Menafra said that there were anti-bullying specialists assigned to each school and that this school year some new staff would be serving in those roles as some staff had retired or left those positions.

Grasso asked Menafra if there were separate listings of any drug incidents involving heroin, noting the rise in heroin use across the county, state and nation.

Menafra said that while he believed that there were probably incidents of heroin abuse present, none had been detected.

“It is a game of cat and mouse with police and the police are looking real hard but nothing has been found around by the schools,” Menafra said.

He added that the snapshot of incidents provided to the board covered the period of January 1 to June 30. “It is a snapshot of what happened during the day, not after hours.”

Menafra talked about the use of Ocean County Sheriff Unit search dogs that visited the school each year. He said the dogs are brought in at random periods at a given school in the district to detect the presence of narcotics.

“They bring in five or six dogs as they tire easily, we do bring them into and on occasions outside the school buildings. It sends a message out. We have brought dogs into our facility each year, probably more than any other district in Ocean County,” Menafra said.

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Bob Vosseller is an award winning journalist having written for weekly and daily newspapers in Ocean and Monmouth counties for more than 30 years. Readers can contact him at [email protected]