Months after abrupt suspension, Mount Olive, NJ school superintendent quits
📑 Mt. Olive school superintendent was suspended by the school board in October
📑 The super filed ethics charges, complaints against some board members and attorneys
📑 He resigned in late April, saying a ‘small-minded group’ created a toxic environment
MOUNT OLIVE — Months after his abrupt suspension, the Mount Olive School Superintendent has resigned — blaming the situation in part on “personal grudges” of some members of the Board of Education.
Robert Zywicki submitted his letter of resignation on April 27, effective immediately.
“Unfortunately, the Board of Education has become controlled by a small-minded group of individuals more interested in settling the score on their personal grudges than acting in the best interests of Mount Olive children,” Zywicki said in his resignation.
“These entrenched ‘good old boys’ make decisions based on whom they are against and their adversity to change rather than meeting the needs of ALL learners in the post-pandemic era."
Mount Olive Board of Education President Antoine Gayles confirmed the resignation without much further comment, in a public letter on April 28.
He said Sumit Bangia would continue as Acting Superintendent of Schools, as the board would launch its search for “a permanent replacement” for Zywicki.
At Monday’s Board of Education meeting, Zywicki was among six employees whose resignations were officially accepted by the board, according to the meeting agenda.
Zywicki: Disinformation campaign by some Board of Ed members, attorneys
The latest developments have done little to shed light on what specifically prompted the jarring changes in the first place.
Zywicki has accused the board and its attorney of starting a disinformation campaign to “exact reputational harm” immediately after voting to suspend him in October.
He said the majority of the board and its legal representatives rejected “one opportunity after another” for six months to have a meaningful settlement dialogue.
“So, I will no longer fight for a job that has been spoiled for me. I will no longer watch this Board waste hundreds of thousands of dollars of the taxpayers’ hard earned dollars paying legal fees to Mr. Zitomer.”
Zywicki also filed a grievance against board attorney Marc Zitomer with the New Jersey Supreme Court Office of Attorney Ethics, saying that he repeatedly violated attorney client confidentiality — not just of Zywicki, but also of board of education members and parents.
That was administratively dismissed on May 8, according to the law firm where Zitomer is a partner.
Zywicki also filed a related complaint against the board with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.
In February, he filed an amended complaint in Morris County Superior Court, seeking multimillion-dollar damages from four members of the Mount Olive Board of Ed.
The “whistleblower” lawsuit from Zywicki says that defendants Gayles, Anthony Strillacci, William Robinson and Anthony Giordano schemed to “punish him and destroy his reputation” for calling attention to violations of policy, code and “good practice” in the school district.
Also in February, one school board member filed tenure charges against Zywicki, seeking to have him fired.
Those allegations included that Zywicki was “double-dipping” by getting paid by the district as superintendent while also doing work for Rutgers University, an allegation he has continued to deny.
Another school board member asked the state Department of Education to intervene and appoint an independent monitor to oversee the 4,600-student district earlier this year amid the ongoing turmoil.