Middletown Board of Education Member Branded Unethical


Joan Minnuies

Middletown, NJ- Board of Education Member Vincent Brand has accused his fellow Board Member, Joan Minnuies, of using her official capacity on the Board for the benefit of her daughter’s employment at Middletown High School North and of using her position to recruit Middletown North students to volunteer at her granddaughter’s birthday party in exchange for a letter stating that they performed volunteer hours.

Minnuies says that Brand’s accusations, which were lodged as an Ethics Complaint with New Jersey’s School Ethics Commission, are “bogus” and “political motivated.”   Minnuies is standing for reelection next Tuesday.

According to Brand’s complaint, Minnuies opposed efforts by Dr. William George, Schools Superintendent, to hire a new business instruction teacher, Miss Devan Crimi, at MHSN because Crimi is also an “elite” lacrosse and field hockey coach who was an Academic and Athletic All-American in lacrosse while a college student at Adelphi University.  Minnuies daughter, Jenna Minnuies Jackson, is employed by the school district as a coach of field hockey, bowling and lacrosse.

Brand’s complaint alleges that a personnel committee meeting on May 5, that Minnuies accused Dr. George of inappropriately trying to hire Crimi because he knows her and not because of her qualifications.  In August Jackson met with Athletic Director Rich Carroll and complained that the administration was trying to replace her as a coach with Crimi.  At a School Board  meeting on September 21, Minnuies voted against hiring Crimi.  Crimi was hired, as all other Board Members approved.

Brand claims that Minnuies conduct regarding Crimi’s employment violates the Ethics Act and the Code of Ethics.

In his second complaint, Brand alleges that Minnuies arranged for Middletown High School North students to volunteer for 5 hours at a private birthday party that Minnuies hosted at her home on July 18 for her granddaughter, Jackson’s daughter,in exchange for a letter commemorating their volunteerism.

Brand’s complaint stated as fact that assisting with the private birthday party of a child of a school district coach and the grandchild of a board member is not volunteering or community service. It is a personal favor at the request of a coach and board
member that places the student athletes in an impossible situation, does not have the district’s best interests at heart, and places the entire board, administration and school district in an unethical light.

In a statement emailed to MoreMonmouthMusing, Munniues said, “This is not the first attempt to harass and intimidate me.  This complaint is bogus, and clearly an election ploy to discredit me.  I have full confidence that the Ethics Commission will see this for the frivolous complaint it is.  If you have any other questions about the process please contact the Board Attorney.”

Posted: October 27th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Education, Middletown, Monmouth County News | Tags: , , , , , , , | 27 Comments »

27 Comments on “Middletown Board of Education Member Branded Unethical”

  1. Neil VanEerde said at 9:11 am on October 27th, 2015:

    Sounds fishy. I believe Mr Brand has a valid point. He is a straight shooter. Not so sure about Jenna

  2. Kenneth Lee said at 9:28 am on October 27th, 2015:

    Nonsense headline! “Branded Unethical”? She was simply accused by someone, who obviously has a political axe to grind. Let there be an investigation, and if she did anything wrong, she should be so branded. Until then, she is innocent until proven guilty. Middletown is still part of America.

  3. Tom Stokes said at 10:34 am on October 27th, 2015:

    Art, I also have to second what Kenneth Lee said. One Board member calling out another right before an election does seem a bit political in its motive.

    I would rather wait for a full, fair and impartial review of the facts before “branding” anyone.

    But this does expose a serious problem when board members have close relatives as school employees. Perhaps that is the real situation which needs to be addressed.

    One suggestion – consolidate all local schools into a county school system which would eliminate much of the duplicate personnel (Superintendents, Business Administrators and staff) and make the system more efficient and less costly.

  4. Bob English said at 11:44 am on October 27th, 2015:

    Best to without judgment until the School Ethics Commission makes a ruling.

  5. UPOM said at 12:29 pm on October 27th, 2015:

    Thank you Mr. Brand for bringing this to light. Any elected officials who could take advantage of children like that should resign immediately.

  6. John Van Houton said at 1:02 pm on October 27th, 2015:

    Vinnie Brand….. “Branded”. Get it? It’s a headline, relax no one has heated up a branding iron, yet.

    With regard to these charges it looks like a cut and dry case. She knew that the applicant was likely to apply for the coaching position that she was more qualified to hold than her daughter was. This person was apparently chosen by the interview committee as the best person for the teaching position. All the other board members agreed with the committee. She should have recused herself from voting on the agenda item. She didn’t. Guilty. Next.

    Using her influence as a board member to have kids work a birthday party and then giving them credit towards community service? No surprise there. After all, she is a career BOE member, there has got to be some perks included with the position, right?

    She has basically taken over The Great Race in Middletown to use as her own personal BOE campaign war chest. She files a tax return for the Great Race that says she is giving the money to teachers to institute new programs for the students in the classroom but she doesn’t give any money to teachers at all. Instead she hands out checks to local PTA groups because that buys more votes, besides she already has the teachers in her pocket. The Great Race used to give out grants to teachers until Joan took it over. I don’t understand, as a charitable organization, how she get away with filing a publicly available IRS form which blatantly misstates how she spends the money she raises.

    A few years ago she left a PTA meeting at Thompson School and a pile of her campaign literature “mysteriously” was found on the meeting room table after she left. Campaigning on public property is against the law. Of course Joan had no idea how the material got there.

    Joan Minnuies has no business being at any PTA meeting. She is not a parent and she is not a teacher. She is a board member who should not be in our schools at all without prior approval from the superintendent. The problem is that she has purchased so many votes over the years that she is tough to beat in a local election.

    The only thing I find surprising about this is that she is being charged with something unethical instead of something illegal. It was only a matter of time before she sealed her own fate.

    And please stop with the politically motivated defense Joan, it just makes you sound like every other guilty politician who was ever caught red handed.

  7. Linda kugelmann said at 1:30 pm on October 27th, 2015:

    i think she needs to be voted out!
    I bieve Brand. She should have been out a few fees ago

  8. RM said at 1:40 pm on October 27th, 2015:

    I’m not surprised. Maybe people should also look into the so-called Middletown Education Association and their shady practices. Guess who’s in charge of that? Frankly, I think there should be a limitation as to how long someone can even serve on the B of E. These folks get WAY too comfortable.

  9. Barb said at 1:55 pm on October 27th, 2015:

    I usually don’t comment on this blog, but I have seen Brand nearly jump over a table, after a woman at a BOE meeting said something with the word “hear” in it and he said she attacked him because he is deaf. He packed his folders and was going home! In the middle of a meeting! It was childish and I believe this is all politically motivated. I only hope that the crowd that goes to these meetings, votes the way they think because after the meetings, they all comment about the stupidity. I only wish they were courageous enough to say it out loud.

  10. Wilson said at 2:58 pm on October 27th, 2015:

    I can’t take Brand serious when part of his stand up comedy act degrades teachers. He also has benefited from the nepotism of being a Board of Ed member

  11. John Van Houton said at 3:01 pm on October 27th, 2015:

    Barb, the defense you have for Joan voting against a teacher that would probably take her daughter’s coaching job and for using kids to work a birthday party and giving them credit towards community service is that Vinnie Brand once did something childish at a BOE meeting.

    Instead of addressing the things she is accused of doing, you choose to attack the person accusing her.

    Who knows why Mr. Brand filed these charges? I’m not going to pretend to know what he is thinking and it doesn’t matter. The ethics charges will stand or fall on their own merit regardless of the motivation behind their filing. If she did these things, which she did not deny and I have no problem believing she did, she should be removed from the BOE regardless of the motivation of the person who filed them.

    This appears to be a clear cut case of abuse of authority and bold faced nepotism.
    Why was she the only one to vote against hiring this teacher? Even her cronies on the BOE didn’t back her up on this one. This was an “in your face” ethics violation by someone who’s been on the Board too long and thought she was ten foot tall and bulletproof.

    Does anyone really doubt that she did these things? It seems to be entirely in character to me. Even if she somehow manages to twist things in order to avoid sanction by the State ethics committee, is this really the kind of person we want on the Board of Education, supposedly representing our children?

    There are much better choices than her come next Tuesday. Let’s get some new blood on the BOE.

  12. Jimmy Jones said at 4:55 pm on October 27th, 2015:

    The timing of this is a give away…a purely political move… A poor one … But still onvious

  13. Blue light special said at 5:58 pm on October 27th, 2015:

    K-Mart allows nepotism and hiring high schools students. Joan seems to have confused the BOE ethics and policy with K-Marts ethics, favors and conflicts of interest.

  14. Sibill35 said at 8:56 pm on October 27th, 2015:

    Regarding the timing, shouldn’t something like this come out BEFORE an election rather than after? Only a true sycophant would focus on the accuser rather than the accusation.

    If the accusation is fabricated or materially inaccurate, that would explode off the pages of the press, but not even a denial has been offered…

    Its no wonder they call this the Soprano State.

  15. Vinnie Brand said at 9:50 pm on October 27th, 2015:

    The timing of these charges was determined by Mrs. Minnuies, not the election cycle. I learned of the birthday party and “community service” letter in September and the vote in question was in September of this year. I filed charges as soon as I found out about her actions. When I took my seat on the BOE I told the people of Middletown I would make the best decisions possible for the children of this community. I have done that. Filing these charges is also in the best interest of our community. Her actions speak for themselves and my complaint is an attempt by me to defend my community. To allow a board member to act in a manner inconsistent with the Code of Ethics is not something I can sit by and watch without taking action.

    It is unfortunate that it will be spun by some as political in nature. It isn’t. It is my sincere belief that Mrs. Minnuies will be found guilty of these charges.

  16. Anderson said at 10:07 pm on October 27th, 2015:

    Regardless of timing the Ethics Committee will determine if she behaved appropriately. Is it correct that she is the President of the Middletown Education Foundation and a Board of Education member? That does not seem quite right.

  17. John Van Houton said at 9:14 am on October 28th, 2015:

    Joan’s involvement in the Great Race (MTEA) was exposed by Susan Bright almost a year ago on the NJO Middletown forum and Middletown Mike’s blog, but no one was paying attention. This should be required reading for all voters in Middletown.


    Go to thread 36809 from last January.
    Joan filed the charitable organization tax return listing Maria Wheaton as a co-president long after Maria had washed her hands of the Great Race and Joan Minnuies.

    Maria distanced herself from Joan in this post on the NJO Middletown forum linked to above:

    “…. my name (Maria Wheaton) is listed as Co-President on the MTEF 2012/2013 tax return however I resigned from that position in 2012. Linda Cendagorta/treasurer and Joan Minnuies/President have filed with the state of NJ through their CPA an amended tax return for 2012/2013. According to Mrs. Cendagorta the Great Race treasurer the amended return was received by the State of NJ department of taxation on 11/28/14. Let me be very clear I am no longer in any form affiliated with Joan Minnuies and or the Great Race. Maria Wheaton”

    Joan also appears to be the person handling the finances for Project Prom.

    Get this, Joan a BOE member, runs Project Prom for after prom activities, but only for the students at High School North not High School South. Why is a BOE member showing favoritism towards one of our high schools? And Joan accepts contributions for Project Prom from contractors that do business with the school district.

    Hello. She takes money from contractors for her pet project and then votes on items as a BOE member that involve the people who donated to her organization. This is all documented and available for anyone who knows how to use Google. How is she getting away with this year after year?

    Why did The Board of directors of The Great Race go from dozens of people to just Joan and two of her friends once she became involved in it? Why didn’t the red flags shoot up when she filed a tax return with someone’s name on it who was no longer a part of the organization?

    Joan’s got her fingers in many pies and they all have the same thing in common. She ends up being in control and deciding where the money goes. These organizations get her face and name out to the public. She gets her name and picture in the paper, sometimes handing out checks to local parent/teacher groups.

    Does anyone know why Joan gets over $2,000 every year from Easter Seals? It’s always on her financial disclosure statement. I have no idea what this is about but given the dubious nature of her other activities with charitable organizations I can’t help but wonder what she does for this money or if it involves anything to do with our schools.

    It may be completely innocent, but when it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck……

  18. John said at 5:12 pm on October 28th, 2015:

    What happens on the board should stay on board. Especially a week before the election. Complain when it happens Mr. Brand!

  19. UPOM said at 6:59 pm on October 28th, 2015:

    @John “What happens on the board should stay on the board.”

    No, the board of education functions serve OUR community. Nothing should be kept under wraps!

  20. Start Fresh said at 11:03 am on October 29th, 2015:

    I’m equally concerned with board members who cost the township thousands in legal fees when their companies don’t get contracts. Self interest is the hallmark of more than a few board members. Time to clean house completely.

  21. fresh accusations said at 8:38 am on October 30th, 2015:

    I’m equally concerned when “fresh start” makes innuendos that a false. That person is Chicken skinned hiding behind a nameless post.
    Not big enough to post with your name @Fresh Start.

    The Community is aware of the Good being done by which Board members and which long standing intrenched woman on the board is the self server. The Ethnics Board will rule and the community can feel confident Nepotism will no longer exist on the BOE

  22. River plaza parent said at 9:08 am on October 30th, 2015:

    I pay almost $20,000 per year in property taxs…Lets keep this simple, She’s got to go. Any one using political power for continued self interest should be tarred and feathered in the town square. Also, BOE needs to get there act together quick. When I hear about state levied fines due to improper BOE decisions this makes me sick!
    Thanks Joan, like we don’t pay enough all ready.
    As for Mr. Brand Thanks for having the courage to stand up for what’s right.

  23. Vinnie Brand said at 10:34 am on October 30th, 2015:


    I did file these complaints as soon as they happened. I could not disagree more with the sentiment that this should stay behind closed doors. We represent the community and actions like those of Mrs. Minnuies need to be made be exposed, not hidden.

  24. Very active mom said at 8:43 pm on October 30th, 2015:

    I just want to say one thing about the pta’so receiving the great race checks. I speak on first hand knowledge only.. I was in our school office a teacher came in and tried to hand over a check that an outside party wanted to donate for locks on classroom doors, the teacher was encouraged to hand over the check to the pta only because the pta can purchase from any company and shop for the best price, where the building superiors have to purchase thru contracts that the BOE SIGN with. It is better for the pta’s to receive funds as the money goes directly to our kids and nothing more. I cannot answer with direct great race check knowledge but I can safely assume.
    The “allegations that have come out days before an election is absurd. I have been to more BOE Meetings then I care to admit and the behavior that goes on is embarrassing.. and this behavior carried over to the NS debate night as well.. it’s truly not nice of any members to treat each other in this way. My husband tells me it’s politics but I see it as people not acting like humans.. let’s just be real.
    At the NS debate someone tried to ask questions about Dr George’s Merit pay and know one wanted to touch it but I walked away with another realizations…a comment was said about a child getting hurt at school and the family has hospital bills..apparently we don’t have insurance coverage for this anymore..it was cancalled to save money…so here it what I now question…we save money as a district with not paying insurance..a child gets injured…sorry parents pay the bill…BOE saves money and Dr George’s merit pay is based on a percentage of how much he saves us??? Is this true Vinny. ..I only am addressing you since you’re the only BOE on here with your name out there..and you were also at this debate.

    Thank you..

  25. Vinnie Brand said at 12:40 pm on October 31st, 2015:

    Very active mom,

    The district, by law, shops for the best price and service for all items, contracts etc. Certain providers are contracted with to supply throughout the year but they win these contracts based on price and service. There is really no instance when we don’t shop. Additionally, our Business Administrator has won BA of the year two years running. She does an outstanding job. We have trimmed our budget surplus AND added teaching positions. We shopped and lowered insurance costs, legal costs, food services etc.

    As for merit pay, I’m not sure what question was asked. Dr. Georges’ contract has a merit pay provision. To get that pay, he must hit goals set by the BOE. He has hit them every year. These goals are both financial and performance driven. They are not easily achieved goals and the fact of the matter is that he must achieve them to get the money. He has.

    Finally, the allegations. As I have said numerous times, the timing was determined by Mrs. Minnuies. She did these things right before an election. I’m sorry that is the case. If we were to NOT make these allegations simply because of the election cycle, we’d never make them. There is a BOE election every year. Additionally, we’d give BOE members a free pass. They would know that they could commit these acts because people would be afraid to report them because they’d be labeled, as I have been, as a “puppet” and someone who is playing politics. I’m not. I simply did the right thing. Despite the attacks on my character I’d do the right thing again.

    My father taught me that there is no wrong time to do the right thing. Mrs. Minnuies will be found guilty.

  26. Fresh Start said at 9:24 pm on November 1st, 2015:

    In reply to “fresh accusations”
    1. Kind of ridiculous to use a nameless post yourself if you are criticizing mine.

    2. Your poor spelling and usage of the English language detracts from whatever nutty point you are trying to make.

    3. How can you be so defensive when no names were mentioned? Sounds like a case of protesting too much

    4. No need for alleging innuendo. All newbies in town should google the names of all school board candidates in relation to Middletown NJ Board of Education and make their own determination as to who is worthy of their vote. My conclusion: clean slate needed.

    5. You want my real name? Why? Are you going to visit me? Well, if you insist. It’s Legion.

  27. vinnie brand said at 9:23 pm on November 4th, 2015:

    Fresh Start,

    The election is over so this is really just a air clearing thing. There is no board member who is in a business that would supply services to the BOE. That would of course be a violation of the school ethics act. I don’t know what you are referring to but I do know that my record is clean and I sleep very well at night. I vote and act with the children of our district in the forefront of my mind. Always.

    Vinnie Brand.