NJ school agency official resigns after hiring unqualified relatives
TRENTON — The head of a New Jersey agency overseeing school construction projects facing questions about reports she hired unqualified people said Tuesday that she is resigning.
Schools Development Authority CEO Lizette Delgado-Polanco wrote in a letter to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy Tuesday that her last day will be Friday.
"I've worked my entire life fighting for the rights of New Jersey residents. As the CEO of the SDA, I worked hard to fight for our most vulnerable population: our kids," she said in the letter.
Murphy's office did not respond to word of her departure.
Delgado-Polanco was at the center of reporting by The Record newspaper, which said she hired family members, including a second cousin and the mother of her grandchild.
The newspaper also reported at least 10 hires that were made despite candidates' lacking qualifications.
The authority has said the new employees were hired because they had the necessary skills.
But the Record reported that at least one of the new hires got a salary of $105,000 to be the deputy director of Small, Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise despite lacking a required degree and earlier working in a car dealership.
The newspaper also reported, for example, that the daughter-in-law of another official at the authority was hired to be a "human resources specialist-benefits."
The post called for a bachelor's degree, three to five years in HR and professional certifications. But the person hired didn't have a degree or certifications, and her previous job was in retail, according to her resume.
Delgado-Polanco said she decided to leave after much deliberation because "politics should not be in the conversation."
"We need to keep the focus on providing a thorough and efficient education for New Jersey's most vulnerable children regardless of their zip code," she wrote.
It's not clear exactly what she meant by politics, or whether the people hired under her would remain. A spokesman for the authority did not answer questions about Delgado-Polanco's letter.
In her letter, Delgado-Polanco says she leaves with a heavy heart but is proud of the work she did. She pointed specifically to the opening of schools in Garfield, New Brunswick, Newark and Vineland and touted a commitment to diversity.
The agency oversees construction projects in 31 of the state's poorest school districts.
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