MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Despite public concerns voiced by the staff of the South Orange Middle School, the SOMA Board of Education voted Wednesday evening to approve the reappointment of all staff members, including SOMS Principal Joseph Uglialoro, for the 2014-2015 academic year.
During the last few months, there have been repeated calls for Uglialoro's removal, as teachers from SOMS have addressed the Board to express their feelings about him and the tension between teachers and administrators.
The May 15 meeting was not much different. During the Hearings of Individuals and Delegations period, when members of the public may address the Board, Mrs. Elissa Malespina, parent of an incoming sixth-grade student to the South Orange Middle School as well as a past librarian, spoke of the changes she said she has witnessed firsthand.
"When I came to SOMA, I found a place where the administration and teachers collaborated well and respected one another, which created a true school community," she said. "I have watched that disappear. It makes me sad and worried about the future."
Others also voiced their concern and asked that Board members "do what's right for the children."
Malespina said, "I have watched as many good teachers have not received the support that they deserve from him (Principal Uglialoro) and I am at a loss as to why," she said. "This lead to a divided staff who is always worried that they might be the next target. I even experienced those same worries during my time there."
Only Board member Johanna Wright abstained from voting on the reappointment resolution, citing a personal conflict on the renewal of six staff members: Lorenzo Busichio, James Jennings, Alan Levin, Catherine McDonough, Joseph Uglialoro, and her daughter Jazmine Wright.