WOODLAND PARK/LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Both the Woodland Park Mayor and Borough Council and the Passaic Valley Regional High School Board of Education have passed “no confidence” votes in the high school’s leadership.
Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark and the Borough Council voted 7-0 on July 17 on a resolution declaring no confidence in Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jo Ann Cardillo. The high school’s Board of Education voted 6-3 no confidence at its June 25 meeting.
"The high school has an obligation to promote their school, and entice students to want to attend," Kazmark said. "I do not believe Passaic Valley's efforts have achieved this goal." He stressed that the school has "dynamic" teachers, high student achievement, and athletics programs, that are thirsting for good quality leadership.
A no confidence vote is a method to bring forth serious public concerns and such concerns exist with the high school, according to the resolution. The facility serves 9th to 12th grade students from Woodland Park, Little Falls and Totowa. The resolutions calls for a change in leadership in order to chart a new course for the school.
The no confidence votes follow a situation with the 2019 Valley Green yearbook in which a student’s published photo was accompanied by controversial captions. The student, who listed his nickname as Da Bomb, said his secret ambition was to “get past the TSA without being stopped” and his quote was “I would thank Allah but I know the FBI is watching.”
PV Board of Education member Sam Yodice noted on social media that following an examination of all the details regarding the yearbook publication, the PVBOE took several actions.
“The community must understand we felt that there was a severe neglect in duties at several levels,” he noted. “Failure to follow practices and enforce proper administrative oversight will not be tolerated and that the community can entrust us to hold the entire administration team and teachers accountable for not exerting the necessary leadership to achieve educational success of each and every student.”
Actions taken outside the no confidence vote by the PVBOE included:
- Two teachers written up for neglect of duties, stripped of their yearbook duties and yearbook stipend, and had their salary pay increments froze for one year.
- Two administrators, including principal overseeing yearbook, were also written up and salary pay increments frozen for one year.
- One administrator with limited yearbook oversight was written up.
- A complete corrective action plan is being put into action immediately, alongside a review of yearbook policies, procedures and practices.
In its resolution, the Woodland Park Mayor and Council noted several concerns, including:
- Less than 50% of PV students have met proficiency in English language arts, with only 44.1% proficient in 2018.
- Less than 30% of PV students have met proficiency in mathematics, with a decline in proficiency from 2017 to 2018 (31.0% proficient in 2017 and 29.5% proficient in 2018).
- Proficiency rates for English language arts and mathematics at PV are far below the state average (13.8% lower in English language arts and 19.2% lower in mathematics).
- Since 2016, there has been an increase in student enrollment at technical, parochial and private schools as alternatives to educating students at PV, due to families electing not to send their children to PV. In fact, 60% of graduating students from Woodland Park’s Memorial Middle School applied to attend Passaic County Technical Institute, as an alternative to PV.
- Failure to upkeep and better maintain the facilities and grounds at PVHS have become more apparent in the past few years.