On Sunday, September 10th, Pinelands Regional School District Business Administrator Stephen J. Brennan was the sole recipient of Epic’s critical letter. This is the letter that urged the district to immediately cease all construction. The next day, Monday, September 11th, there were two meetings to discuss roofing concerns: The first was with Superintendent Banks and various consultants at 2 PM. The next was later the same day, at an executive session at 6 PM. This meeting was attended by the same people, plus at least three board members. At the 6 PM meeting, according to Brennan’s full statement, Brennan stated the following (this is found on page 3):
I informed [Epic’s consultant], members of the Board and contractors in attendance at the executive meeting that I would post the September 10, 2017 report of Epic Environmental on the school district website.
According to Brennan, the letter was posted four days later, on Friday, September 15th, on the health and safety website.
This brings up two questions:
- Six of the nine board member have so far stated that they were not aware of the letter until October 3nd. Superintendent Banks made it clear that she was not aware of the letter until approximately October 17th. Yet, Brennan says that he told everyone in attendance at the 6 PM September 11th meeting, that the letter would be posted. It is our understanding that at least three board members were in that meeting, And all three of them have stated that they were not aware of the letter until October 3rd. Did Banks and those three Board members simply not hear him? Did they misunderstand what he was saying?
- According to Brennan, the letter was posted for days later. Given the severity of its recommendation and the situation – not to mention that for this entire week, both students and staff were breathing these harmful fumes and debris – is even this four day delay acceptable? Hypothetically, if the board and the superintendent did indeed become aware of this letter on Friday the 15th, would this have been considered acceptable?
It is clear, according to the board, that placing such a critical letter on the publicly accessible district website is, at the very least, an unexpected practice. At the November 6th Board of Education working session, Board President Susan Ernst stated that:
[Documents] may very well be on the [public health and safety] webpage, but that isn’t what your Board accesses. We access the board drive for all the information we need to make decisions…. I don’t know right now if it’s actually on the board drive. I’ve not seen it there.
Unfortunately, now that Brennan seems to be at least temporarily out of the picture, we are significantly left to speculate his intentions.