Hazel Elementary Students Recognized at West Orange Board of Education Meeting

Ms. Sanchez, students Angeley Delva and Staniela Pierre-Louis, and Principal Acevedo. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Hazel students perform the National Anthem. Credits: Cynthia Cumming
The brief meeting lasted approximately an hour. Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ - West Orange Hazel Elementary School students performed the National Anthem at the Board of Education Meeting on Monday, and two Hazel students were recognized for outstanding progress in developing literacy in the English language in a short period of time. (Both students recently moved to West Orange from Haiti).

In addition, Interim Superintendent James O'Neill announced that two days would be cut from spring break to make up for snow days.

Hazel Principal Ed Acevedo told the board that Hazel students raised $1,260 for pediatric cancer by selling shoelaces. He then asked students Angelie Delva and Staniela Pierre-Louis to read their "Valentine's for Veterans" notes, and along with their ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher Ms. Sanchez, they were then presented with recognition awards for their stunning successes in the ESL program.

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Interim Superintendent James O'Neill advised the public that April 16 and April 17 would now be regular school days for the public schools. Spring break was originally scheduled to run from April 14-17.  If there is an additional snow day, April 15 will be added back in to the regular schedule.

When questioned by a Gregory parent about the decision to add a half-day on Feb. 17, President's Day, O'Neill said he had polled the teachers to see if they would be willing to make up one of the snow days that way. Ninety percent of the teachers and 80 percent of the students were in school that day. The district was able to make up one of the three days with the half-day instead of pulling three days from spring break or adding days at the end of the year. Some parents were still unhappy, saying that all days should have been taken from spring break.

Anthony Minervino, Hazel PTA President, expressed concern about snow removal in the area of Hazel School.  O'Neill said that like the Department of Public Works, the district has been struggling to deal with one of the worst winters in recent history, and said Principal Acevedo had already contacted him. The district will look into the situation further.

Board member Laura Lab drafted a unanimously-passed resolution to present to the New Jersey School Board Association for consideration in their May policy meeting. The resolution would require ethics disclosure forms for board members and administrators in the district,be returned to the district once they  have been finalized.

Currently the district is required to file an OPRA request to get that information.

Lab told the Alternative Press, "I believe for it to be a better business practice once the forms are finalized the BOE receives the CSA's form and the CSA receives all administrator's forms without having to file an OPRA request. Right now the Board Secretary is the only one privy to the submitted forms (they are all now submitted via email - no hard copies in district). Many times the Board Secretary is also the Business Administrator and no one has access to their forms either in the current process, unless of course an OPRA request is submitted."
In other news, New Jersey State Department of Education School Performance Reports would soon be available on each school's site for review.

The Diversity Conference series, canceled due to inclement weather last month, will resume on Wednesday, March 5 at 7:00 pm in the Central Office Conference Room 203, 179 Eagle Rock Ave. All are welcome to attend.

Board President Sandra Mordecai provided the public with an update on the Superintendent Search. On Feb. 12, the New Jersey School Board Association Search Organization told the district that on Jan. 24, they received 39 requests for applications; out of the 39, 29 completed applications; 16 applicants met the required criteria; 13 applicants had previous experience as Superintendents; and 13 applicants had Doctorate Degrees.

The board will meet in closed session to review the applications of the top four candidates on March 1 and March 6. A budget meeting is scheduled for March 10 at 6 p.m. at the high school, and a regular meeting is scheduled for March 18, also at West Orange High School.

(Editor's Note: This article was updated on Feb. 25 to include the information on Lab's NJSBA proposed resolution.)


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