TRENTON —Senate President Steve Sweeney will hold joint committee hearings about the conduct of NJEA local union representatives.

According to a source close to Sweeney who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Sweeney is deeply disturbed by the "outrageous behavior" seen in recent videos released by Project Veritas showing the union presidents in Hamilton (Mercer) and Union City describing how they would protect teachers from allegations of wrongdoing.

“No adult in a school setting – regardless of who they are – can look the other way when it comes to violence against a student. Whether it’s student on student or teacher on student – there is zero tolerance for this kind of egregious conduct. No one charged with educating students should be denigrating them. The stakes are too high to ignore – we’re talking about our children," Sweeney said in a statement announcing the investigation.

David Perry, president of the Hamilton (Mercer) Teachers Education Association, and Kathleen Valencia, president of the Union City Education Association, were suspended by their respective districts hours after the videos in which they appeared were released last week.

Valencia is seen and heard on one video telling an undercover agent for Veritas that she is aware of a district teacher who was accused of having sex with a student but who will not be charged with a crime because there's no proof.

She also held up a file she purported to be that of a teacher she helped, who was accused of having sex with an underage student.

The Union City video was released a day after Perry was seen on another undercover Veritas video saying that the union will "bend the truth" to help even "the worst people."

The NJEA endorsed Sweeney's opponent in last November, Republican Fran Grenier, and spent an estimated $10 to $12 million on his campaign.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.

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