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Freeholder Calls for Resignation of Brookdale Board of Trustees, Attorney

John Curley: Trustees are "policing their own failures."

Freeholder Deputy Director John Curley called for the Brookdale Community College Board of Trustees and board attorney John Cantalupo to resign by Monday. Curley, the freeholder board’s liaison to the college, made the announcement during the governing body’s regular meeting at the Hall of Records Thursday evening.

“I mailed letters to the chairman of the board of trustees, the trustees and the attorney, Mr. Cantalupo, requesting their resignation effective Monday. We have individuals, whether they are good or bad, who are policing their own failures,” Curley said.

Brookdale’s president, Peter F. Burnham, resigned on Tuesday amid controversy over his contract and spending practices. Cantalupo told the Asbury Park Press that the board of trustees contacted the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office after an internal review of the president’s office budget.

Curley said he requested a line-item budget from Brookdale after the college discussed the possibility of raising tuition and had difficulty getting a hold of a copy. When he did obtain the requested line-item information, Curley said he was troubled with the spending by Burnham’s office.

“I delved through the office of the president and found what I believe to be extreme, extreme costs that were being put on the shoulders of the taxpayers and the tuition payers of this county,” Curley said.

He noted that the trustees knew the contents of Burnham’s contract and voted to approve it; Curley said this approval factored into his decision to call for their resignations.

“I am very saddened over the situation and I would urge the trustees to move aside. I can assure that when each one comes up for reappointment, this freeholder will not be voting for them,” Curley said.

While Freeholder Lillian Burry said she was pleased that the board acted quickly to suspend Burnham without pay, she expressed disappointment over a lack of oversight at the college.

“Clearly, the board of trustees could have been more vigilant,” Burry said. “The board if nothing else is guilty of allowing the success of the college dull their otherwise acute senses and let Peter Burnham take advantage of their trust.”

Burry called on the trustees to investigate whether or not his pension could be frozen so that money could be used to repay the college for any misappropriated funds.

“Peter Burnham has disgraced himself in the eyes of the students, in the eyes of his peers, in the eyes of those who believed in this vision for Brookdale College, and in the eyes of every Monmouth County taxpayer. He must be held accountable,” Burry said.

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