TOMS RIVER-Toms River Regional Schoool Board member Daniel Leonard who earlier this year was blocked by the nine-member body from appointing a political contributor to a lucrative contract said he wants more control over contract negotiations on Thursday.
Dan Leonard said he wants to increase salaries for the school’s union workers.
“We must begin to do what’s right and close the gap between the highest and lowest paid employees and make these jobs fair and equitable for all,” Leonard said.
Leonard said he hopes the political ticket he is backing in this year’s election wins, so he can be appointed to the school board’s negotiating committee in 2018.
“I hope to be on the negotiating committee in 2018 but that’s going to be up to the voters and who they decide to elect this November,” Leonard said. He added that he was marginalized by the school board for not allowing the first year board member a seat on the committee which negotiates contracts with the district’s many collective bargaining units.
Leonard has yet to finish his first year as a board member and has already been embroiled in several scandals. In the spring, Leonard unsuccessfully tried to appoint a firm that donated to his political campaign to a high-value contract. When other board members caught wind of the scheme, even though the firm was the lowest bidder, the board voted against Leonard’s preferred vendor once it was apparent that ethics violations could be brought against the board for awarding Leonard’s campaign donor with a contract.
Later, Leonard became enraged over the vote and had criminal charges filed against him for stalking fellow board member Robert Onofrietti. Leonard was caught peering through the window of Onofrietti’s home while his teenage daughter set the kitchen table, according to a police report on file with the Toms River Police Department.
Later, Leonard lashed out at the other board member, calling him, “A little bitch” during a public hearing.
He admitted that he was investigating Onofrietti’s financial position as his excuse for staking out the board member’s private home.
Still, yesterday, Leonard complained about his omission from being a chairman of any schoolboard subcommittees despite his inexperience as a board member and questionable behavior.
“This year I was marginalized with no committee chair position but I hope that changes,” he added.
Leonard said he hopes Toms River voters will elect his political friends and allies, Ginny Rhine and Al Schwartz in hopes that they, along with existing board allies Christopher Raimann and Joe Nardini will reward Leonard with a power broker position on the school board.
If the pair wins their election, Leonard’s bloc will secure a 5-4 voting majority on the board.
Despite Leonard’s push for voters to elect his friends to serve with him on the board, he added, “I will support what is best for the district regardless of partisan politics and personal relationships.”
Leonard represents the small sending district of Beachwood, with a population of just 11,000, less than 10% of the overall population the Toms River Regional School District serves.