Berkeley Heights Board of Education Accepts Resignation of Teacher Charged with Providing Alcohol to Students

Berkeley Heights students artwork is shown at Columbia Middle School. Credits: Edward Kensik
Berkeley Heights students artwork is shown at Columbia Middle School. Credits: Edward Kensik
Scott Neigel, assistant principal at Governor Livingston High School (left) demonstrates some of the aspects of the teacher/department/organizations websites with SchoolWires. Credits: Edward Kensik
School officials and board members shown in front of a slide before the demonstration of the aspects of the teacher/department/organizations websites with SchoolWires. Credits: Edward Kensik

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Berkeley Heights Board of Education accepted the resignation officially of Frank Melchiorre, a teacher who pled guilty last month to charges after being arrested last year for what published reports said included provided alcohol to minors and drug possession at his home in Chatham.

Melchiorre, who was a science teacher at Governor Livingston High School, had been arrested in October 2010 at the high school. Melchiorre resigned from his position on Oct. 21.

According to the resolution at Thursday night's school board meeting the Chatham resident had pled guilty to "certain of the criminal charges that were pending against him and agreed to relinquish his teaching certification to the state, which relinquishment has the same force and effect of a revocation."                  

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According to the district, Melchiorre can no longer work for any public school district.

Along with the charges of service alcohol to minors, he was also charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Along with his loss of teaching privileges, his request for tenure was also revoked.

District officials and school board members approved the resolution unanimously, but did not comment on it.

Also at Thursday's board of education meeting, school trustee Denis Smalley asked that the board look into a generator system for one or more of the schools.

The discussion comes after the schools were closed for five days after the Halloween weekend snow storm that caused the district buildings to lose power. "I think that we should look into purchasing some building generators," said Smalley who added that the district would look into the cost for large enough generators to keep a school powered for a long period of time.

School Trustee Helen Kirsch added that she was asked by residents why one of the schools could not be opened as ‘warming’ centers for residents who were without power.

With the district being closed for five days, School Superintendent Judith Rattner said that school will be open on Martin Luther King Day in January since the district only allows four emergency snow days. Donna Felezzola, board secretary and school business administrator, said that there was not any major damage to the school district buildings during the storm.

Also at the meeting Scott Neigel, assistant principal at Governor Livingston High School, presented the board with a demonstration teacher/department/organization websites with SchoolWires. SchoolWires always teachers to have their own websites while the First Class system still is used in the district as email system.

One of the positives for the SchoolWires system is that it is offsite as opposed to the FirstClass email system which is on-site. "If we lose power, it will still be on," said Neigel who added that the district parents, staff and students can be alerted if school is closed.

Rattner said that the district was hurt after the Halloween weekend storm caused the power outages and it was difficult to update the district site for the FirstClass system.

Jared Prupis, a teacher at Mary Kay McMillin Early Learning Center, said that he likes the SchoolWires system as do the parents.  "I find that the parents like the website and I find the e-alerts are a great tool," said Prupis. The SchoolWires system sends out alerts to subscribers about any updates that are made to a teacher's website.

Eli Quinonez, a teacher at Mountain Park Elementary School, said that he places a PDF of the homework assignments every day on his site. "I know that students sometimes forget their homework," said Quinonez who added that the parents just need to print or save the assignments on the website. "The students do not have to make a trip back to the school to get the homework."

District officials added that they don't see getting rid of the FirstClass system because SchoolWires does not have an email part of its programs.

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