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Fingerprint Blunder Means Trustee Won't be Sworn in Thursday

Catherine Kazan was slated to begin her one-year term as a Board of Education trustee.

Editor's note: The following letter was written by Catherine Kazan. She was elected to a one-year unexpired term on the Wayne Board of Education in November.

To the Editor:

I would like the residents of Wayne and across the State to be aware that due to certain deficiencies in the process for qualifying elected officials to assume office, a large number of officials elected across the State of New Jersey in November will be unable to assume office as scheduled this January. 

The statutorily mandated cumbersome process for conducting criminal background checks on elected officials has been compounded by serious inadequacies in the performance of Morpho Trust, the government contractor responsible for taking fingerprints and submitting information relating to the background checks. 

This situation affects the voters of Wayne specifically because while I was elected in November to serve as a Board of Education Trustee (BOE), and my term in office begins on January 2, 2013, I will be unable to assume office at the BOE reorganization meeting on that date.  

New Jersey statutes set forth the procedure that a newly elected BOE Trustee must follow in order to have the required criminal background check conducted.  I have complied with all statutory requirements in a timely manner. Due to errors in the fingerprinting process by Morpho Trust, my fingerprints could not be used by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJ DOE) in conducting that background check, and will have to be retaken.

The procedures specified by the Commissioner of Education that are to be followed in the event that fingerprints are rejected are cumbersome and time-consuming. These procedures do not allow adequate time for the fingerprinting to be redone and background checks to be completed before newly-elected Trustees are scheduled to begin their terms in January.

As of this date, neither the Wayne Board of Education nor I have received official notification from the Department of Education or Morpho Trust. Until official notification is received, my fingerprints cannot be retaken and the background check cannot be completed. Due to the NJ DOE’s failure to follow its own procedures in a timely way, the background check process is stalled.  As matters stand now, I will be delayed from assuming my duties as a Board of Education Trustee for an indefinite period of time.

No one disputes that Board of Education Trustees should be required to pass a background check. However, the inadequacies in the current process will have the effect of preventing a duly-elected public official from taking office. The voters of Wayne and elsewhere throughout the State should not be forced to tolerate this subversion of the democratic process. 

The Commissioner of Education should remedy this injustice to numerous newly-elected BOE trustees in our State by immediately instructing locals BOEs that trustees may be sworn in and begin serving the public while their criminal background checks are still pending. In the typical case, BOE Trustees have no direct contact with students and no access to public funds.  Under these circumstances, allowing them to assume their duties while their criminal background checks are still pending will pose no significant risk to the public. 

If you agree and would like to contact the Commissioner of Education, his contact information is as follows:

Chris Cerf, Commissioner

NJ Department of Education

P.O. Box 500

Trenton, NJ  08625

609-292-4450

Fax: 609-777-4099

I look forward to serving the residents of Wayne as soon as possible as your duly elected Trustee.

Catherine Kazan

Trustee Elect

stewart resmer January 02, 2014 at 01:35 PM
And besides there are no laws against convicted felons holding senate or congressional seats. What? The chief can't vousch for Mz Kazan? Unless of course he has a 'secret' investigation going on that flagged her? Hmmm?
joann ranalletti January 02, 2014 at 01:40 PM
In my haste I spelled bureaucratic wrong in the above post and I am not a product of CCSS!!!!!!!!!!!!
stewart resmer January 02, 2014 at 01:48 PM
Everyone is supposed to trust a township where serial appointments to political cronies are the rule and not the exception and a council that framed Alfieri Burke and the Pioneer school and a board that does NOT want Kazxan anway who has a board member in a sensitive position in the department in the era of the george Washington Bridge scandal? Not on your life the fix is in and everyone knows itthe question is? Who did it!
Jack Q January 02, 2014 at 01:54 PM
At least the re-organization meeting tonight was cancelled. Stew, I think you give Mr. Pavlak way too much credit for creating such a devious plan.
stewart resmer January 02, 2014 at 02:03 PM
Jq as the saying goes absolute power corrupts absolutely the possibility exists that there are those in gvt here who are very capable of attempting to block an election by any and all means. Speaking for myself this is the most suspect little town I have ever witnessed and now this?
stewart resmer January 02, 2014 at 02:14 PM
I can 24 hour expidite a passport for a fee as a matter of routine but a finger print scan? OH NO? We must investigate? There are rules and regulations? Filings, responses, letter briefs, appeals denials? And then whatafter a year of it passes ? You got due process what more do you want? This is a case of constructive voter nullification.
Wayne's World January 02, 2014 at 02:33 PM
Stew = Oliver Stone. The conspiracy theories are cuckoo but entertaining, as usual! I think you have worked on too many Michael Moore documentaries. Ms. Kazan, sorry to hear of these troubles - thank you for your service to our town. Just another example of why we have to reduce all levels of gov't interference in our lives by 50%.
Jack Q January 02, 2014 at 02:33 PM
So you are telling me that you think the Board conspired with Morpho Trust, who is hired by the state, to screw up Ms. Kazan's fingerprints, in an effort to maintain its majority by a 7-2 margin? That's as ridiculous as saying the IRS was targeting applications of conservative groups for tax exempt status. Oh wait, that did happen. As unfortunate as this process is, I feel for Ms. Kazan. As small as Wayne is, we would know by now if something was afoot with her background. She should be placed on the Board and this background check process should be amended.
Wayne's World January 02, 2014 at 02:43 PM
Jack, why would Stew let the facts get in the way of a good fantasy?
stewart resmer January 02, 2014 at 02:47 PM
Jq uhm guessin you have never files an opra on the wpd records right?
stewart resmer January 02, 2014 at 02:50 PM
This is a dirty lil town in a dirty ol state where even crossing a bridge has a stench from the putrified body politic jq and you know it
stewart resmer January 02, 2014 at 02:56 PM
This business about finger prints is a crock there's more going on here than 1st blush ya'll have called for investigations on the pioneer school but never yer own crooked corrupt local gvt and today yer in denial that anything like this could be going on? Uh huh okee dokey smokie
Al Scala January 02, 2014 at 03:03 PM
I'm told that the finger printing process is done one time. Makes sense. Therefore, I assume that Ceberio, Badiner and Mordkoff, that their finger prints have been run through the State Police Data base again.. I also assume that Rogger was finger printed when he was appointed and also checked out. We certainly did not here of any problems, malfunctions, disparities or whatever when it came to them. Now, all of a sudden, Cathy Kazan gets elected, and she was the last person on earth they wanted elected to the Board, there is a hitch, a problem, an anomaly, etc. Isn't this all ironic.! Now, I'm not saying there is a conspiracy, and I'm not saying there isn't. I just find this all ironic. As someone once explained to me about synchronicity, there is no such thing as a coincidence.
stewart resmer January 02, 2014 at 03:06 PM
1in 20 americans say gvt works well 70 pct lack confidence in gvt to make progress on important problems 65 pct say they have no confidence gvt can fix the economy 57 pct say we need stronger gvt for complex problems (ap-norc poll) . Here of course an election is nullified and no one smells a rat?
Bill January 02, 2014 at 03:06 PM
Wasn't it ONE piece of paper requested by FOIA that cost the town (I mean us, the TAXPAYERS) over $50,000 in litigation costs? OOOPS, I must sound like a Conspirisist!!!!!
Bill January 02, 2014 at 03:09 PM
Al, Rogger is not answering the question that I asked earlier about his own fingerprints due to the fact that he WAS NOT elected. He has yet to answer, leading one to believe that it just wasn't done. OOOPS, I must sound like a Conspirisist,,,, Oh boy...
Jack Q January 02, 2014 at 03:11 PM
No, Stew, I have not filed an OPRA on the WPD since I do not spend my free time hunting down conspiracies. However, I will humor you and say that there is something nefarious going on. What is the end game? What does the Board stand to gain by holding up the process so that votes will go from 8-1 to 7-2? To discourage Ms. Kazan from running again? I don't think this would happen since as Al points out, you only get fingerprinted once. Would it be to break her resolve? I doubt that since she seems to be of pretty strong moral fiber.
stewart resmer January 02, 2014 at 03:18 PM
Least we forget it was only a week or two ago when council ordered boards and commissions to keep minutres and records? Neat trick huh? No proof? No truth right? There is a crisis of confidence in gvt and no more an example of right here in the back woods of wayne
Al Scala January 02, 2014 at 03:18 PM
Bill....It was an OPRA request that wasn't honored that cost $50,000 in legal costs. It was the political jerking around, regarding the approval of the energy saving windmill at Wayne Auto Spa that cost another $220,000 or so. So what, what the heck is $270,000.? Let the taxpayers pick it up. No problem!
Bill January 02, 2014 at 03:20 PM
Stew. Yes! Even if Ms. Kazan were a convicted felon she could be a senator or congress person fingerprints and all. Of course, we all know and agree that she is not; but the point of the matter is the ridiculousness of holding up an elected representative for something like fingerprints. An elected official who has lived in town and volunteered much to this town.
stewart resmer January 02, 2014 at 03:21 PM
Gee JQ I dunno let's asl alfieri burke et al maybe they can answer you as to why huh? OPRA is the new way to interface w gvt or haven't you heard? Under penalty of law you know? We The People stuff like that there?
Bill January 02, 2014 at 03:21 PM
AGAIN, where are Rogger's prints???? Will someone confirm or deny this?
Jack Q January 02, 2014 at 03:27 PM
Why should I ask them when you seem to have all the answers, Stew.
stewart resmer January 02, 2014 at 03:31 PM
Who did this? Not the corporate personhood mind you? The individual? The warm body? I want an investigation. Turn around is fair play is it not?
stewart resmer January 02, 2014 at 03:33 PM
Good jq now sit there quietly there's a good lad now
Wayne's World January 02, 2014 at 04:04 PM
DiBlasio for Wayne mayor!
Cathy Kazan January 02, 2014 at 04:06 PM
UPDATE! I have spent the better part of the day on the phone with Morpho Trust, various reporters, and a very helpful legislative aide by the name of Lonni Miller-Ryan. She was able to use her channels to expedite my appointment. I will now have my fingerprints retaken on January 7th. Hopefully, I will be cleared and seated soon after that. As for suggesting legislative changes Mr. Ortiz, I did exactly that in a letter to my representatives. I saw no need to go into that in the letter above as that is about the matter as it stands today. That letter was the catalyst for the resolution. My first thought was that if any good will come out this it will be a remedy to the problem going forward. To suggest otherwise, was presumptive on your part. Let's try to move forward in a positive manner.
leanbean January 02, 2014 at 05:13 PM
Just wondering if the Sgt. was behind the mix-up. He does work in the records dept. This is one way of keeping Cathy from a vote tonite.
Rogger Ortiz January 02, 2014 at 05:39 PM
You demanded that the State should swear in everyone that is new to the BOE without a filed background check. I merely critiqued that suggestion as irresponsible (since it may open up Districts to litigation), and that perhaps a more level-headed policy change would be the appropriate mode and method that can help prevent future issues. gg
joann ranalletti January 02, 2014 at 05:39 PM
Cathy, Glad to hear Lonni was able to help. Perhaps thru her assistance and that of Assemblyman Rumana they will have you cleared to be seated on Jan 9th(put a stat on your fingerprinting and background check) so you will be able to assume your BOE seat and vote on issues that evening which you are entitled to thru the mandate of the voting people of Wayne. My thoughts and support are with you always.

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