Elected in April, Jersey City Board of Education member Sterling Waterman is aggressively pursuing longtime Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles T. Epps, Jr., the $268,000-per year overseer of 35 out of 40 failing city schools.
As the Board of Education fights over a national search for a new super, Epps, a former assemblyman, is trying to get the ink dry on his contract before Gov. Chris Christie implements reform that would cap supers’ salaries at $175,000.
A close ally of downton Councilman Steve Fulop who broke city election records in his school board performance in April, Waterman wants an indefinite postponement of Epps’ contract, which the BOE is scheduled to examine tomorrow evening.
“Once again, there is a breakdown in this process. It is astonishing that I have not yet been given a copy of the superintendent’s new contract on which my fellow board members and I are supposed to cast votes on Wednesday,” said Waterman. “How can I vote on something I haven’t seen?”
Epps served in the Assembly from 2006 to 2008, double-dipping as a schools super/assemblyman. He replaced a ticket that included Tony Chiappone of Bayonne, who lost political traction with the death of upstart Jersey City Councilman Glenn Cunningham.
Epps lasted one term.
Bounced by the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) after failing to get around a wave of bad press excoriating him for collecting both his then-240K-plus schools salary and his $49,000-per year legislative largesse, Epps tapped out early.
His replacement squad again included Chiappone, who had been up on blocks for two years.
The anti-establishment city councilman aligned himself with Cunningham widow Sandra Cunningham in 2007. The pair stuck together as they distastefully negotiated a place on the HCDO’s column A – and won.
Chiappone squeaked through a single term before the state Attorney General indicted him on charges of misappropriating state funds for his own campaign use. The on-again, off-again assemblyman pleaded guilty to those charges earlier this year and was replaced by Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell (D-Bayonne).
It cannot be confirmed that Epps was hurt when the organization didn’t ask him to replace Chiappone.