Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J. Found No Fraud in Boiler Records

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J. Found No Fraud in Boiler Records

Article excerpt

MIDLAND PARK -- A December 2014 state inspection of Midland Park's three schools did not find evidence of fraudulent markings in the buildings' boiler logbooks, a claim made in a recent lawsuit by two former custodians who contend they were fired after pointing out inconsistencies in those logbooks.

Kerri H. Gatling, public information officer for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said the department found no violations during its Dec. 30 visit, only "minor issues" with the logbooks that were not cited.

"Under state law, a licensed operator is needed in the building when the building is occupied and the boiler is operating," Gatling said, adding that the boilers were shut down during the inspection because school was not in session. As a normal course of action, she said, inspectors will return once more when the boilers are operating.

In a lawsuit brought against Midland Park's Board of Education by former custodians William Edland Jr. and Frank Gabriele, both say they were unjustly fired in January after finding discrepancies that violated occupational health and safety laws.

Besides requiring a licensed boiler operator in the building when it's occupied and the boiler is operating, state law mandates custodians like Edland and Gabriele, both of whom have the needed license (known as a "black seal" license), to sign a logbook when they arrive at work.

The lawsuit, filed on April 7, claims that Edland, who had returned from an extended convalescence on Sept. 1, 2014, was assigned to Godwin Elementary. In December 2014, the suit claims, Edland reported for work and found no black seal licensee in the building. He "noted this fact on various dates in the logbook," it says, and thus alerted the district that it was operating the building "unlawfully." Subsequently, the suit says, the logbook was altered, and the word "no" was covered, apparently to make it appear the district was in regulatory compliance. …

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