By Ron Leir
For a decade – until his firing — Brian Doran was a maintenance employee for the Kearny Board of Education – even though, as someone with a non-violent criminal record, he wasn’t supposed to be working there.
Now it appears he’s coming back to work.
And the district’s chief administrator who fired him may be on his way out, permanently.
Doran’s initial hiring never became an issue – until after Frank Ferraro was appointed superintendent of schools in December 2012.
By the fall of 2013, Ferraro had received confirmation from the state Department of Education’s Criminal Review Unit that Doran had been arrested twice in Kearny in 1993 and once in Clifton in 1995, for DUI and marijuana use, all resulting in guilty pleas, which left Doran “permanently disqualified or ineligible for employment ….”
On Sept. 24, 2013, Ferraro terminated Doran, prompting Doran’s attorney (and cousin) Mathew Doran, in October, to sue the Kearny Board of Education and Ferraro in an effort to get his cousin reinstated on the grounds that Ferraro violated his client’s rights as a tenured school employee by failing to present the case against him before his dismissal; that Ferraro violated board policy by terminating without a board vote; that Ferraro and the board violated state law by failing to get his client’s consent for a background check; and that they violated his right to due process by failing to allow him to respond to the criminal allegations.
Moreover, the attorney noted, on Oct. 10, 2013, his client’s criminal record was expunged by Hudson County Superior Court Judge John Young Jr.
Meanwhile, in January 2014, the board placed Ferraro on an involuntary paid leave and in August 2014, it voted to bring tenure charges against Ferraro, alleging that he improperly discussed Doran’s personnel record with his mother and misrepresented his job credentials.
All this activity culminated last Thursday with the board voting 6-0 – James Doran Jr. (Bryan’s uncle) and John Leadbeater were absent and Dan Esteves left early – to approve a proposed settlement of the Doran lawsuit with Bryan Doran and the state Department of Education by permitting Bryan Doran’s reinstatement to his old job at his old salary.
Board attorney Ken Lindenfelser said the settlement was recommended by the board’s Jersey City special counsel, Genova, Burns, Giantomasi & Webster in consideration of the overall uncertainty about the Doran situation: that the DOE apparently never ran Doran’s prints when he was hired; that Doran disclosed his criminal background when he was hired; and that Doran kept working because no one told him not to.
Lindenfelser said that Carl Carabelli, manager of the DOE’s Criminal Review Unit, has signed off on the settlement agreement but that before it can take effect, it must be sanctioned by the state Commissioner of Education.
Also, Brian Doran would submit himself to a criminal background check to ensure he’s had a clean record since his last known criminal act.
If the Commissioner does approve it, Brian Doran will agree to release the DOE and the Kearny BOE from any future liability.
One issue that remains unsettled, Lindenfelser said, is whether Doran could pursue a demand for back pay for the time between his termination and reinstatement.
Meanwhile, Ferraro is scheduled for his tenure charge hearing Oct. 28 in Newark before state arbitrator Gerard Restaino unless he happens to get a new job.
According to an online report filed Oct. 8 by Times Warner Cable News, Ferraro is reportedly one of two finalists for superintendent of the Central Valley School District in Ilion, N.Y.
“We’ll see what happens,” Ferraro told The Observer. “I’m keeping my options open.”