FRHSD Board Member Called Candidate 'Unhinged Lunatic'

Marlboro representative Michael Messinger's private message about Gloria Close became public and a complaint is now in front of the School Ethics Commission.

A Freehold Regional High School District (FRHSD) Board of Education member's Facebook messages have become the subject of an ethics complaint to the New Jersey Commissioner of Education.

Michael Messinger, who represents Marlboro on the school board, referred to Manalapan resident Gloria Close as "an unhinged lunatic" in private Facebook messages.

Close was campaigning for the Manalapan representative position for 2013 against incumbent Jennifer Sutera at the time the messages were sent. Sutera ultimately won reelection, but the alleged mudslinging was not known to Close until after the election was over. 

In the first private Facebook message dated Oct. 27, Messinger wrote to a friend and member of the Marlboro K-8 Board of Education the following about Close: “She is either a liar or has a learning disability. If she gets elected, the Manalapan voters are basically saying ‘to hell’ with the high school. She wants no extracurricular activities. If her rationale for paying teachers and administrators is implemented, anyone of quality will leave the district in no time flat. Being on the BOE is a balance between students and taxpayers. This District has shown that balance by any measure since Mr. Sampson has taken over. Gloria, and the other senior citizens who advocate permanent pay cuts are, in one word ‘selfish’.”

Messinger sent another message to the same individual stating, “Gloria’s dishonesty and rudeness to others is what I typically see from Democrats! Even though I think she claims to be a Republican, they don’t want her in Manalapan.”

The person whom Messinger had sent the private Facebook messages to showed them to Close. Close then sent a letter explaining the incident to Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf and alleging that Messinger’s conduct may have violated the School Ethics Act.

Because a complaint is already in front of Cerf, the FRHSD Board of Education is prevented from taking any action on the matter, Board Attorney Mark Toscano said during a meeting of the governing body on Monday, Jan. 7.

“The reason you are not seeing action by this body is because this body is not allowed to take action,” Toscano said. "The Commissioner of Education invests sole authority for a response or an investigation or a review in the School Ethics Commission and that is where everything is right now."

Close said the statement that she would cut all extracurricular activities if elected--one that she vehemently denied--spilled over into the campaign and hurt her at the polls.

Messinger said that Close did, in fact, state she would remove extracurricular activities at an April 2010 Board of Education meeting which was videotaped.

However, Messinger said the statements were never intended as a public rebuke of Close and amounted to private conversation.

“If [that person] had not showed the message to Gloria, no other person on earth would have ever seen it,” Messinger said. “I never wrote about Gloria over the Internet, unless you classify a ‘private’ Facebook message to [someone] as ‘over the Internet’.”

Close contends that Messinger should have held himself to higher standard because of position in public office.

“As an elected Board member you have a responsibility, not only to yourself to uphold and to have a good character, but you have a responsibility to the residents, to your family, and most importantly to the children - you represent them,” Close said.

Close has not yet heard back from Cerf about this incident.

Annoyed in Marlboro January 12, 2013 at 12:45 PM
To the editor; I appreciate efforts to moderate comments which often include name calling and attacks on people’s families including children. However this should not include statements that are not factual. See 1/11/13 at 9:31am which has since been deleted. I would have appreciated that true journalism occur and questions be raised to present facts. For example: 1. It isn’t true that Any Dean brought an ethics charge over any private emails. 2. Mr. Dean did file an ethics complaint heard outside of any campaign because a councilwoman's husband provided services to the town for which he was paid. Regardless of the dollar amount or how long it occurred there is no-bidding for those services. Instead of clarifying this point, the moderator's response advises the previous poster that they are referring to Mr. Dean. How would they know who they are referring to (when the statements are not accurate) and why would the moderator not set the record straight especially in light of indisputable facts, that the previous poster, Moms Thoughts, is not telling the truth? Hasn’t this case has been raised to a higher level which has yet to be ruled upon. 3. Does this enforcement of the Terms of Use include efforts to limit posts to factual information when accusations are made against those named or is this only upheld when Mrs. Rosenwald and members of her family are the subject of ridicule? Thank you for your anticipated professional and courteous response.
Paul Schlaflin January 12, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Chris Dean was initially part of the bogus complaint against me as his name appears as part of the transcripts from the hearings. His name stopped appearing around the time he sought the Republican chair position. I have those transcripts should anyone wish to see his name on an official document.
Josh Pollak January 12, 2013 at 03:59 PM
I find it very interesting that the only people who use terms like handlers, cronies, and man enough, should be able to identify themselves by name and not to hide behind screen names. I find it very hard to listen to your opinions about someone manning up and taking responsibility for what they say when you don't want to be identified. If you feel strongly enough about what you write you should feel strongly enough to identify yourself.
Jim Sage January 12, 2013 at 07:31 PM
Josh, I agree with you 100%; however, it's understandable why some people "hide" behind screen names. It's The fear of physical violence. How many times have we read that someone got killed or hurt for either posting falsities or even the truth? But with this thread--which is getting crazy--I agree with you.
Curious George January 13, 2013 at 02:14 AM
I'm sure you are also addressing this comment to Benjifranklin, Zel, Milton McC and several of the other user names that have been used for almost 6 months here and on the NJ.com forums to ridicule, insult and otherwise trash Ms. Close. BTW, some of the language that Mr. Messinger used in his email was almost verbatim to some of those same messages.


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