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BOE Agenda: Interim Top Administrator

Get a glimpse into what's on the Middletown Township Board of Education meeting agenda; and a look back at the last meeting.

It’s an agenda all about goodbyes, hellos, last requests and future administrative prospects for tonight’s Middletown Township Board of Education Regular Voting Meeting, at 7:30 p.m. at High School North on Tindall Road.

On tonight’s agenda is the “approval of contract for Ernest Donnelly to serve as Interim Superintendent of Schools, effective upon approval through October 31, 2011.”

At last week’s Board of Education meeting, Joan Minnuies, board president, said that the district did “have a tentative agreement with a (new interim) superintendent … and we were hoping to have county approval by last Friday. We’re looking forward to that day, that minute.”

Donnelly ran in the board elections this year to fill the one-year unexpired term of resigned board member Dan Skelton. He lost to Leonora Caminiti.

Donnelly is a 40-year veteran in the education field. He is most recently retired as superintendent of the Millstone Township School District. from his bid for board election in April.  

Also tonight, according to the agenda, the board is expected to accept the resignation of new member John Macrae. As of yet, there has been no explanation of Macrae’s decision to step down.

He is the second new board member to resign since being elected in April. The board recently swore in Sue Griffin to , who resigned in May.

The board will now seek a candidate to fill Macrae’s unexpired term, which amounts to a few months short of the entire three-year term. People may apply through the board offices.

On the subject of resignations, last week was interim superintendent Patrick Houston’s last meeting, after and declaring he could no longer work under what he called stifling working conditions at the board level.

Some board members called his attitude too autonomous. Houston, as top administrator with the legitimate authority, had recommended that Patrick Rinella, who was serving as interim principal of High School South, be named its permanent principal.

The move was lauded by the public, in the interest of starting school with a public-sanctioned principal in place. But the acting top administrator’s recommendation was shot down by the board. A sitting majority felt, that though legal, the choice was made too independently and defied status quo policy.

The Rinella appointment was made to fill the spot left vacant by Dr. Anthony Shallop, who, amidst much controversy, was demoted from the South principal position back to his science teacher position and then resigned.

Since school started, Rinella was voted back in as interim principal at South, with the prospect of becoming permanent principal according to board-sanctioned hiring process. Jocelyn Easley was appointed South’s assistant principal effective Sept. 1 through June 30, 2012.

Houston, while he could not legally resign with no notice, according to Board Attorney Christopher Parton, served his mandatory 30 days.

While school districts in New Jersey may operate without principals, it is against the law to stay in session without a superintendent in place.

So, Houston’s effective resignation date became Sept. 26. He was slated to stay until January.

Houston, last week, spoke of his desire to see the “central office proposal for $1.4 million” implemented. In July, he said, the district found out from the NJ Department of Education that it would be getting $1.4 million to “directly influence education.”

With that, Houston’s plan was to replace six guidance counselors that had been cut. All the guidance counselors are trained in anti-bullying, which he said was a priority, given the new state legislation. The money would also allow the district to add four co-teachers in the elementary schools, he added.


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