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BRICK, N.J. (AP) — The superintendent of one of the largest school districts at the Jersey shore was arrested Thursday on charges that he, his daughter and a former school official improperly arranged private day care for the superintendent's grandson at taxpayers' expense.
Brick Township Superintendent Walter Uszenski was charged along with his daughter, Jacqueline Halsey, and former school official Andrew Morgan, who oversaw special education services for the district.
Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said the three arranged for Uszenski's preschool-aged grandson to be approved for special educational services for which he did not qualify.
"This child was not entitled to special services," the prosecutor said. "They wrote up paperwork to improperly qualify the child for special services."
The private day care service, at a non-school facility, and transportation expenses cost taxpayers nearly $40,000, authorities said. Uszenski, who has been superintendent since 2012, earns $177,500 a year.
Prosecutors said Uszenski and his daughter had not yet hired attorneys to comment on their behalf. The superintendent did not respond to telephone and email messages Thursday seeking comment. No telephone listing for Halsey could be located.
Morgan's lawyer, William Strazza, said Morgan maintains his innocence.
"Andrew Morgan's entire professional life has been dedicated to helping children with special education needs," Strazza said. "His expertise was sought out by Brick to root out waste, and to audit the special education budget, and his work (was) stellar."
All three are charged with official misconduct and theft by deception.
The prosecutor's office said Halsey, who works for a different public school district, initiated the request for special services, and that both Morgan and Uszenski executed the necessary approvals required for the Brick Board of Education to pay for them.
Morgan worked until the end of 2013 as interim director of special services for the school district. Prosecutors said Uszenski and Morgan previously knew each other before the superintendent brought Morgan on board to conduct an audit of the district's special services program for $17,499.
Prosecutors said one of Morgan's first acts in that job "was to engineer a fraudulent plan for Ms. Halsey's child, who is also Uszenski's grandchild, to receive unnecessary services and transportation at taxpayers' expense."
The Board of Education did not respond to a request for comment on its immediate plans regarding the arrests.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC
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