BOE Records Prove Gaines Issued Campaign Press Release on School Time, Violating District Policy and State Law
Recently surrendered school district records prove that Zisa team campaign manager and Hackensack High School teacher Caseen Gaines issued a political press release on school grounds during the regular school day, an action that is in violation of state law and school district policy. According to building entry/exit swipe logs provided by the school district after an Open Public Records request made by the Labrosse Team campaign, Gaines swiped in at 7:33 a.m. on March 9th and swiped out at 3:17 p.m. (records are attached). The press release was sent by Gaines at 9:14 a.m., proving that it was sent on school grounds. Furthermore, Gaines’ class schedule shows that he is scheduled to be teaching from 8:20-9:00 a.m. each morning, raising questions as to whether or not Gaines wrote the response during class time. The Labrosse Team press release Gaines responded to was issued at 8:11 a.m. that morning, leaving Gaines with little time to complete his response before his class started just nine minutes later.
Gaines’ client, Zisa team candidate Lara Rodriguez, is Vice President of the Hackensack Board of Education and thus has a responsibility to Hackensack taxpayers to stop these types of abuses by district employees. The Labrosse Team is calling on Rodriguez to take action on this now proven case of blatant misuse of taxpayer resources for political purposes by her campaign, and to put an immediate stop to it.
“The Zisa machine proved that it had no respect for Hackensack taxpayers when it controlled city government for decades and this taxpayer abuse is continuing at the Board of Education under their watch,” said Mayor John Labrosse. “Lara Rodriguez can’t allow a school district employee to work on her campaign during school time. If Rodriguez refuses to take any action here then she is complicit in Gaines’ misuse of taxpayer resources, proving why the Zisas selected her for their ticket — because she won’t stand up to them and will let them get away with blatant violations like this.”
Mayor John Labrosse sent letters to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and the Hackensack interim Superintendent of Schools on March 10th outlining the allegations against Gaines and calling for an investigation into the scope of this misuse of taxpayer resources.
The Zisa machine has been caught misusing school resources for campaign purposes before — their ticket used an internal school directory to send out campaign letters to teachers during the 2013 municipal election. The Superintendent of Schools at the time was quoted by the Record saying “We have a clear policy, no campaigning and no politics on school premises” and the act attracted widespread criticism for the blatant misuse of school resources. The current School Board President Jason Nunnermacker, a Zisa ally, was a candidate on that slate and the Board Vice President Lara Rodriguez is on the current Zisa ticket. This history of Zisa candidates misusing school resources makes Gaines’ actions even more disturbing and demands an investigation.