Letter to Editor; Former Ocean City School Superintendent Misconduct.

This is a letter to the editor that appeared in the Ocean City Sentinel, Wed, Sept. 27, 2023 regarding former school superintendent, Dr. Matthew Friedman.

Subject – Former School Superintendent Misconduct and Ongoing Superintendent Search.

The letter described unprofessional conduct of former school superintendent, Dr. Matthew Friedman along with strongly encouragement for allowing Dr. Lauren Gunther to compete in the final round superintendent search. 

To the Editor:

Oblivious to the obvious is the current state of affairs at the Ocean City Board of Education as related to the misconduct of former school superintendent, Dr. Matthew Friedman, and the process to find his replacement.

Whether it was Dr. Friedman’s deliberate attempt to inflate his vacation buy out check by thousands of dollars for personal gain, spending over 12 work weeks out of district, being chronically late for work when he did manage to show up, excessive taxpayer funded travel or his mismanagement of the school district, the board has shown no remorse, regret or even acknowledged their mistake with selecting a person to lead Ocean City schools who lived over 2 hours away. 

For the past several months, Ocean City Fairness in Taxes (FIT) has been documenting the brief but misguided tenure of Dr. Friedman. FIT has attended board meetings and sent copious correspondence to the board warning them of his misdeeds.

After much work, FIT was successful in reducing Dr. Friedman’s vacation buy out check by over $6,500 by proving his attendance record was wrong and manipulated for financial gain that he did not earn.

Now, FIT is focusing on his malfeasance with district affairs, including not complying with state educational requirements along with wasteful professional development expenses that yielded little to no benefit for the district.

While the board would like to move on from this fiasco, first there must be a full reconciliation of Dr. Friedman’s conduct in order to achieve much needed accountability. And instead of learning from this experience, the board appears to be dangerously close to making the same mistake again with selecting a new superintendent.

Instead of candidates for the position making a compelling case why the district should hire them, the board has sent the interim superintendent out to talk to the finalist in hopes of convincing one of them to come to Ocean City, all in an attempt to salvage the mishandled recruitment process.

If an employer has to strong arm somebody to work for them, then most likely that will not be a wise hire.

The last thing Ocean City needs is yet another school superintendent who is not sincere in their desire to serve our school community. 

FIT strongly believes that there was no reason for the search for the new school superintendent to leave the island in the first place. There is a highly qualified candidate in the district who has demonstrated a dedication to the Ocean City school community and a commitment to the education profession who would do a wonderful job leading the school system.

Dr. Lauren Gunther is the individual who is the real “passionate educator” that the district so desperately needs at this moment and all FIT is asking for is the board to provide a genuine opportunity for Dr. Gunther to directly compete against the other finalist.

If given a chance to showcase her talent, FIT has the utmost confidence in her success. Dr. Gunther rose to the occasion to fill the void left by an inattentive Dr. Friedman. Her extraordinary efforts, along with others, lead the district during one of its most recent challenging times.

If the board of education fails to provide this well-deserved opportunity, it will send a demoralizing message to school staff that hard work is not appreciated, recognized or rewarded. 

The Ocean City Board of Education is oblivious to the obvious; oblivious to the obvious harm to the district caused by Dr. Friedman along with being oblivious to the obvious solution to the district’s struggles and that is giving a chance for Dr Gunther to lead the Ocean City school community.

She deeply cares about the Ocean City School District and will not fail us if simply given a chance to shine.

David Breeden, President 
Ocean City Fairness in Taxes

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