Education

Retired Passaic Administrator Gets $108,000 School Consulting Contract

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PATERSON, NJ – City education officials have given Passaic’s retired school business administrator a $100-per-hour consulting contract for “project management” that’s worth up to $108,000.

Henry Lee’s contract does not say exactly what duties he would be performing for Paterson Public Schools. Several school board members, including President Christopher Irving, said they were not familiar with details of the contract, which runs from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013.

Lee, who collects a $145,000 annual pension from his retirement from Passaic, also has a second contract pending with Paterson Public Schools for “business services.”

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“For professional service contracts, the superintendent can do what he wants and it doesn’t have to come before the board,’’ said Paterson Schools Commissioner Errol Kerr, chairman of the finance committee, explaining why the board members were unaware of Lee’s duties.

The school district’s spokeswoman, Terry Corallo, did not answer PatersonPress.com’s inquiry about how much Lee would be paid under the second contract. Nor did she answer other questions about Lee’s contracts, including what work he would be doing, what benefits it would bring to the district, and whether other consultants applied for the job.

Corallo said information about the district’s contracts would be available through an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request. PatersonPress.com has filed several OPRA requests about Lee’s contracts and will publish a follow-up story when additional information becomes available.

Lee’s cover letter seeking the “project management” contract says he has worked 35 years as a school business administrator and that he served in that position in Plainfield and Wayne before taking the Passaic job.

“During this service I have had the opportunity to implement technology solutions to address business functions and applications,’’ Lee wrote in the cover letter.

During the last fiscal year, Paterson Public Schools gave Lee a consulting contract that covered various tasks, including work on the district’s budget. (Corallo did not answer a question on how much that contract was for.)

City education advocates were impressed with Lee’s previous work in Paterson.

“I don’t know anything about the contract, but I will say this, when he did the budget presentation, he seemed to know what he was talking about,’’ said Peter Tirri, president of the Paterson Education Association, the union that represents teachers and other staff.

“He has a very strong reputation and it looks like he’s done a good job,’’ said Irene Sterling, president of the Paterson Education Fund, a nonprofit advocacy group.

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