ATLANTIC CITY — The lead attendance officer in the school district, Nicholas J. Russo Jr., has resigned following an investigation by a Philadelphia television news station showing he was not doing his job.
Atlantic City Superintendent Donna Haye said Wednesday the district will do its own investigation.
ABC station WPVI-TV 6 Action News aired the story on its 11 p.m. newscast Wednesday.
Haye said she was told they followed Russo for 11 days. She said she immediately suspended Russo after WPVI showed her the video May 14 that reportedly included Russo making trips to a massage parlor and bicycling on the Boardwalk during working hours.
“I was shocked when I saw the video,” she said. “He’s a lot of places he shouldn’t be. There is no way we would tolerate or condone this. It’s just awful.”
As the lead attendance officer Russo is expected to spend time outside of the schools tracking students who are truant, Haye said. He is also expected to keep logs of his activities. She said the district will investigate Russo’s actions and look at any policies and procedures that might be needed to better track and prevent such behavior in the future.
“It is in the hands of our labor counsel,” she said.
Haye said she was notified on Friday that Russo would unconditionally resign. The district received his resignation on Monday and it was approved by the Board of Education at its meeting Tuesday night.
Russo had been an attendance officer in the district for 20 years, Haye said. He earns about $72,000.
According to Press of Atlantic City files Russo served on the district Board of Education from 1989 to 1993, before being employed by the district in 1994. He is also the owner of Russo’s Liquor Store in Atlantic City and has served on the city Zoning Board.
He is not the mayor of Longport, who shares the same name.
Russo was cited in an investigation in 1995 into alleged misuse of district credit cards for personal expenses while he was on a school board trip to a convention in Las Vegas in 1992. He said the billings were an error and should have been put on his personal credit card. The district later modified its credit card use policy.
He also sued two school board members in 2002 claiming he was harassed and retaliated against on his job in the district because he had supported the hiring of the district’s first black superintendent, R. Mark Harris, while he was on the board. That suit was settled in 2004 with the charges being dismissed and Russo writing a letter of apology to one of the board members.
Russo could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Contact Diane D'Amico: