A New Jersey state assemblyman has introduced a bill to end the practice of "double-dipping" by school administrators after an I-Team investigation found taxpayers were paying dozens of school superintendents twice, through both a paycheck and a pension.
"There are retirees who are earning generous salaries while collecting pensions, and the worst part is that they are not breaking any laws because the current system allows this to happen," said Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), the bill's sponsor.
The I-Team reported in March dozens of interim school superintendents were collecting paychecks after they had officially retired and were already getting pensions. New Jersey state law generally bars retired teachers from double-dipping. But an existing loophole makes exceptions for superintendents and administrators who are either called up by the Department of Education "in a position of critical need" or who are employed on a contractual basis for less than a year.
In the current school year, 45 interim superintendents are double-dipping and collecting more than $4 million a year from pensions, the I-Team found in an investigation with New Jersey Watchdog.
Along with the pension checks, each of the interim superintendents earns a salary, most of them six figures. As retirees, the interims do not contribute to the state’s pension system, which is facing a nearly $42 billion shortfall.
"As the New Jersey Watchdog and NBC 4 New York investigation revealed, these individuals are taking advantage and profiting from an opportunity that the state created," Caputo said in a statement. "The state is in no financial shape to allow this to continue."
Caputo said the salary cap instituted by Gov. Chris Christie also contributes to the problem, since it is more advantageous for administrators to retire and return to work as interims than to remain in the position on a permanent basis.