Parsippany, N.J. – Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce applauded action by the state attorney general’s office to investigate the hiring practices and recent allegations of employee file tampering at the Schools Development Authority.
DeCroce was among a group of legislators last week demanding an investigation following numerous reports of mismanagement under the agency’s chief executive Lizette Delgado-Polanco, who allegedly turned the SDA into a patronage pit by hiring political allies. Besides working as the head of the schools authority, at a salary of $225,000, Delgado-Polanco also serves as vice-chairwoman of the Democratic State Committee.
“The SDA, like other semi-autonomous agencies in New Jersey, must be held accountable for its actions,” said DeCroce (R-Morris). “The SDA has a specific job to do and it is spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money doing it. It cannot be run as an employment agency for the politically connected.”
The agency has come under fire for its spending practices, and some have called for its abolition. According to published reports, the agency spent nearly $12 billion in borrowed money in the past decade and needs $1 billion a year from taxpayers to cover its debt.
DeCroce said she is concerned that outside counsel was hired by the agency for representation in the attorney general’s investigation. DeCroce noted the agency already has a chief counsel and legal staff.
“I would like to know what prompted the SDA to hire outside counsel. I also want to know when the hiring occurred and how much the counsel will cost taxpayers,” said DeCroce. “Was the counsel hired to stonewall the investigation or to help us get at the truth?”
DeCroce, who has repeatedly called for more audits and accountability in statewide school spending, said the agency is symptomatic of how the state’s education funding escalates annually without responsibility.
“The issue that concerns me is, where is all our tax money going and is it being used responsibly,” said DeCroce.