Monmouth Democrats were invited to campaign at Middletown High School North during school hours

Second Middletown Teacher caught engaging in Democrat partisan activity during school hours this year

middletown-north-signA photo of Monmouth County Democrat candidates for Surrogate and Freeholder speaking to a seminar of Middletown High School North freshmen and sophomore participants in the school’s honors Government, Law and Public Policy Program (GLP3) Pathway was posted on the campaign facebook page of Surrogate candidate Vincent Solomeno last Tuesday with the caption “Thrilled to join Matt Doherty and Sue Fulton for Monmouth County Freeholder 2016 and speak to students about county government at Middletown High School North.  Get involved!”

None of the three candidates have any experience in county government.

The seminar was supervised by Patti May, a teacher who is a Democrat candidate for Borough Council in Eatontown.  Monmouth County Democrat Chairman Vin Gopal held a fundraiser for the teacher at the Jumping Brook Country Club in June.

Screenshot of Surrogate Candidate Vincent Solomeno's facebook post about campaigning in Middletown High School North. MMM has reduced the size of the photo to protect the identity of the students.

Screenshot of Surrogate Candidate Vincent Solomeno’s facebook post about campaigning in Middletown High School North. MMM has reduced the size of the photo to protect the identity of the students.

The facebook post was removed from the Democrat’s facebook campaign page on Wednesday after Freeholder Director Tom Arnone, a Republican running for reelection, called Principal Patricia Vari-Cartier, Ed D, to inquire as to why his opponents were campaigning in the school during an instruction period.

Arnone said that Van-Cartier passed him off to another administrator whose name he does not recall, who immediately offer him “equal time” which he declined. Arnone told MMM, “I speak to school children about county government all the time.  I don’t think it is appropriate during the campaign season for an office holder who is running.  This was obviously a campaign event, not an educational experience.  We (he and his running mates, Deputy Freeholder Director Serena DiMaso, Sheriff Shaun Golden and Surrogate Rosemarie Peters) were not invited and would not have even known about it if not for the Democrats’ facebook post.  If we showed up now it would be another campaign event. There are three Freeholders not running this year and many other officials we could send to speak about County Government, if that would serve the students.”

MMM has learned that the GLP3 Pathway includes a mandatory seminar series that is held eight times in the course of the school year. Guest speakers from the fields of law, criminal justice, government and public policy, etc. meet with students and share information about their careers and the roles they play in government, law and public policy. Students need to attend a minimum of seven out of the eight seminars.

One of those eight seminars was apparently wasted on a campaign appearance.  The school’s administration apparently is willing to waste a second of the eight seminars on another campaign appearance, now that they have been caught engaging in prohibited partisan activity.

Middletown School Superintendent William George, Ed D, did not return three messages asking for an explanation of the event.  Vari-Cartier, the High School principle, did not return our call. May, the teacher running for Council in Eatontown who supervised the seminar, did not respond to a message sent via twitter.  Two Board of Education members did not return messages. The one school board member we did talk to said he/she was instructed by the Board’s Attorney that Board Members are not authorized to talk to the press and that all press inquiries should be referred to the Superintendent.

In a phone interview with Solomeno, the candidate said he did not know how the school appearance was arranged. “It was on my calendar,” he said.  Solomeno said that the facebook post was removed “by the campaign.”  In a follow up email, Solomeno said he was invited by a school administrator. He refused to address the facebook post on follow up.

Solomeno said he knows enough to teach honors students about county government and that he also talked about the American Legion Boys State program.

Patti May, a Middletown High School North teacher and Democrat candidate for Council in Eatontown could find herself in a hot mess for partisan political activity while teaching.

Patti May, a Middletown High School North teacher and Democrat candidate for Council in Eatontown could find herself in a hot mess for partisan political activity while teaching. photo via facebook

Monmouth County Democrat Chairman Vin Gopal refused to answer why the facebook post was removed. Gopal also declined to say whether there were any other Democrat volunteers, employees, interns, candidates or elected officials at the event.

In an emailed response to our inquiry Gopal said, “They (sic) candidates were specifically invited by a school administrator to discuss their experiences running for office with a government and politics class. They accepted the invitation and shared their experiences with a small group of students. Hopefully the Republican candidates go and also and share their experiences with the students.”

The Middletown Board of Education Policy Manual, which is posted online and searchable, specifically prohibits political activity on school premises during school hours and prohibits faculty members from participating in political activity during school hours.

The policy manual prohibits the distribution of photos of individual students without parental consent and authorizes the Superintendent or his designee to distribute group photos.

The policy manual states that the Superintendent shall be readily available to the media.

Tom Symanski, Executive Director of the Monmouth County GOP, issued the following statement in response to the Democrats campaigning at Middletown High School North and the facebook post:

“It is deeply troubling that the Monmouth County Democratic Surrogate candidate Vincent Solomeno published a picture of him and Freeholder Candidates Sue Fulton and Matt Doherty speaking to a room full of children at Middletown High School North. For Solomeno, Fulton and Doherty to publicly use students (whose parents have not given consent) as a political prop is deplorable and unethical, and speaks directly to their character.

“One of the responsibilities of the County Surrogate is to handle adoptions for minors. How can Mr. Solomeno be trusted to handle adoptions for children, when he so willingly and publicly invades their privacy?

“The Middletown Board of Education’s policy manual unambiguously prohibits political activity on school property and forbids teachers from engaging in such activity on school premises.  And yet, somehow three partisan running mates, each of whom have no experience in County Government, were ostensibly invited to lecture high school students on that government, without the same opportunity being afforded to the experienced incumbents who they are running against.

“Furthermore, the Board’s policy manual prohibits the dissemination of individual students’ photographs without the consent of the parents and empowers group shots to be disseminated only by the Superintendent or his designee. We are hopeful that officials in the Township as well as the school system will quickly get to the bottom of this.

“As for Solomeno, Fulton and Doherty, we are confident that Monmouth County voters will register their disapproval on November 8th.”

This incident is the second time this year that a Middletown Board of Education faculty member has been exposed participating in partisan political activity during school hours.  In April, Middletown High School South history teacher Joseph Ventre told the press that he was forced to resign after showing a video of the HBO John Oliver show critical of Donald Trump to a class.  Ventre later rescinded his resignation.

Middletown Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, a PhD and an adjunct professor at Monmouth University said, “Middletown taxpayers pay the Board of Education $140 million per year to teach our children to think for themselves, not to be indoctrinated by partisan ideologues from any side. This ongoing behavior is unacceptable.  The Board of Education should hold those responsible accountable and assure parents and taxpayers that this is the last time that partisan political activity will take place in our schools.”


Posted: September 24th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: 2016 Elections, Education, Monmouth County News, Monmouth Democrats, Monmouth GOP | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

17 Comments on “Monmouth Democrats were invited to campaign at Middletown High School North during school hours”

  1. So now said at 11:07 am on September 24th, 2016:

    the indoctrination by libs of college students all over the country reaches down to the high school level. This cannot be excused and allowed to stand and go on! Where are the administrators, school board, and parents? How much are those administrators and teachers paid by ALL the taxpayers? Arnone is right: if the teacher really wanted her students to learn about county government, book people who already served, or who are serving but NOT running, this year. The policies need to either be changed to be non or bi- partisan for instruction purposes, and this teacher needs to be disciplined now, like maybe with some 48 days of unpaid leave, to set an example for others. ( she could use the time off to go door- knocking in her own town, for herself!)

  2. Thomas Stokes said at 11:33 am on September 24th, 2016:

    As a former member of the Middletown Township Board of Education I strongly condemn this one sided political activity by a teacher who is a political activist seeking public office. While it is her right to seek public office, it is not her right to bring partisan politics into the classroom while on the public payroll.

    Immediate action must be taken by the Board of Education (they ARE responsible, not for running the schools, but seeing that the schools are run properly and in accordance with written Board policies).

    The Superintendent, the Principal and the staff involved seem to be hiding from the press and the public. Why? Where is the transparency? The schools are owned and paid for by the public and we have the right, indeed the obligation, to demand that written policies are followed.

    If the Superintendent and the Principal refuse to hold the staff accountable for this outrageous conduct, it will be up to the Board of Education to hold them (the Superintendent, Principal and staff involved) responsible by terminating their employment for cause.

    An immediate police investigation is also warranted as underage minors had their photographs taken and published for political purposes without written permission of both the parents and the School District.

    Perhaps a lawsuit against all those involved in the publication of this photograph will reimburse the taxpayers and the parents for this DEPLORABLE conduct.

    “We are above the law and don’t have to follow the rules everyone else must.” seems to be the motto of these democrat politicians, just like their presidential candidate.

    The School Board election is on November 8th. Looks like all taxpayers and parents will need to get involved to straighten this mess out.

  3. Joe said at 1:21 pm on September 24th, 2016:

    I was in this class last year it was all republicans who showed up. Why didn’t anyone care then?

  4. Maybe they said at 4:17 pm on September 24th, 2016:

    we’re not up for re- election then- if they were, it can be remedied by inviting a representative from each party who are not running in that year, to come and explain their views, platforms, and philosophies of governing: it is called explaining our two- party system to future voting citizens. Better yet, contact the two party chairs, and have approved surrogate speakers rather than the candidates speak: it CAN be fairly handled!!

  5. Proud Republican said at 5:25 pm on September 24th, 2016:

    Joe – I’m not sure if you fully comprehend what the issue is. The three democrats do not hold, nor have they ever held, county office. They were invited simply because they are candidates who are looking for any opportunity to raise their profile for the election. They then proceeded to post pictures on their facebook page. The republicans that came in last year were all officeholders. That’s why no one complained.
    Do you see why one situation was perfectly acceptable and one is outrageously unacceptable? Joe, if you are old enough to drive, go to Hudson County, or Paterson, or Camden, or Newark, or any other place run by democrats and ask if that’s what you want running beautiful Monmouth County. These sleazebag tactics are what democrats do.

  6. Proud Nonpartisan said at 8:45 pm on September 24th, 2016:

    @ProudRepublican – I understand your concern, but let me make sure I understand your argument:

    What you are saying is that someone who has absolutely no experience in office should not post anything on social media to further his campaign, especially if it exploits a specific group of people?

    That sounds oddly familiar to someone running for office right now…

    (I do agree with your argument, I just needed to point to the hypocrisy of it. I’m not trying to start a flame war here.)

  7. Political_Pony said at 7:47 am on September 25th, 2016:

    It seems that our strong Republican town is vulnerable to the conniving extremist Let’s after all. They destroyed the cities, now is time to destroy local communities.
    On the heels of this nonsense taking place, we have The Black Lives movement coming to a church in our community.
    The BLM is a political movement, someone should check out the status of the little church in Lincroft. Are they subject to the same laws most churches are subject to?

  8. Taxpayers United said at 8:24 am on September 25th, 2016:

    The headline should be Middletown Administrator doesn’t do their job

  9. Proud Republican said at 9:18 am on September 25th, 2016:

    My argument is simple – you don’t bring people in to teach a seminar on county government who have never served a day in county government. Same as you would not have people lecture on brain surgery who have never attended medical school. This was a blatant Hudson County -style sleazebag maneuver to try and raise their profile.

  10. Find out said at 9:27 am on September 25th, 2016:

    who pays those largely out-of-state protesters in so many of these disturbances, and you will be concerned to know how sick and twisted certain forces are, in their quest to divide and ruin us as a country. Until more people insist that all lives matter, we will sadly see us being further ripped apart.

  11. Thomas Stokes said at 10:38 am on September 25th, 2016:

    Let me make this very clear.

    You may not use underage minors, in a public school setting during class time as a photo opp to further a political campaign – whether Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Green. Period.

    Unless it is a debate type setting; active political candidates of solely one political party, should never be invited to speak to students during school hours. Period.

    One more point. Who was the “administrator” referred to by the democrat party candidate who actually invited them?

    Was it the teacher or was it an administrator? If it was the teacher, who had a fund raiser thrown for her political candidacy for this years election by the Monmouth County democrat chairman, could this be considered “pay to play” or “quid pro quo” for her to invite only the Monmouth County democrat candidates?

    By holding a political event for active candidates who are not elected officials, can this be considered a political contribution by the school district at taxpayer expense and is this not ethically improper if not illegal political activity? Has this been reported to the proper authorities?

    This deplorable activity, by a partisan political activist, while on the taxpayer time and dime, is just wrong. Period.

    There must be consequences for those who allowed this to take place. Parents and taxpayers must hold Board of Education members accountable on November 8th if they fail to hold the Superintendent, the Principal and the staff accountable for this blatant violation of written Board policy. Period.

  12. Tomsa said at 11:21 am on September 25th, 2016:

    Thomas Stokes are you still getting your kickbacks from the GOP through the sewage authority? Maybe Patty May should bring you in to explain to the kids how they too can get no show jobs on the taxpayer dime

  13. Proud Republican said at 11:47 am on September 25th, 2016:

    @tomsa – you better watch what libelous accusations you throw out. If you have evidence of a crime, by all means bring it to the prosecutor. If not, shut your libelous mouth. You must be one of the desperate Democrats who think using school kids and our Board of Education taxpayer dollars to further Democrat campaigns is ok

  14. Thomas Stokes said at 12:03 pm on September 25th, 2016:


    Why don’t you have the guts to use your real name?

    What no show job? What kickbacks?

    Please identify yourself so I may have my attorney contact your attorney. Using the name of a public authority to hide behind (a sewerage treatment plant – actually well suited for the crap you disseminate) is
    typical for a shill for the democRATS.

    Art, since this coward has falsely libeled me on your blog, please provide me his/her email and identity so I may take appropriate action. Thank you!

  15. Thomas Stokes said at 12:39 pm on September 25th, 2016:

    @Tomsa or can’t spell GOP correctly at Middletown.gov

    Let’s see if your T-mobile account will now come up.

    Have a great day!

  16. Thomas Stokes said at 12:49 pm on September 25th, 2016:

    Now, no more diversions from the far left political shills who are unable to tell the truth like their presidential candidate.

    Getting back to the real topic at hand – the improper, unethical and illegal use of taxpayer dollars to provide campaign activity for one political party campaign by the taxpayer funded staff of the Township of Middletown Board of Education.

    Will these people ever be held accountable for their improper activity?

    That is the real question.

    While it is right to condemn such activity, it is also right to acknowledge that teacher’s right to seek public office, regardless of the political party she chooses to represent.

    But she, her principal and her Superintendent must also be willing to take responsibility for their actions (or inactions) relative to this deplorable conduct. The true test of her character will be whether or not she is willing to admit what she did was wrong and accept responsibility and the consequences that must result.

  17. budb said at 2:13 pm on September 29th, 2016:

    While I totally condemn the actions of the Democratic candidates in this occurance at North, I would like to point out that Republicans are responsible of the contining demise in many Southern and Mid Western States so lets be honest here…..This was politically motivated and wrong to do but the cast Republicans in a positive light is ignorant….just like their Candidate….FYI I am an Independent so save your Hillary remarks could care less….if you were smart and wanting to make a difference vote all incumbents out no matter what party….i have for years….