Education

Parents Challenge Flemington-Raritan Schools Superintendent's Credentials

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Stephanie Voorhees Credits: Curtis Leeds / TAPinto Flemington-Raritan file photo
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RARITAN TWP., NJ – Parents’ objections to the school district’s superintendent continue, even after Dr. Maryrose Caulfield resigned from the job.

Caulfield’s intent to end her term here “for the purpose of retirement” was announced at the Flemington-Raritan school board’s May 30 meeting, and she gave the K-8 school district 120 day notice as required by her employment contract. But many residents sought her immediate removal, a reflection of the fear some have expressed about possible retribution by her against school staff. 

At its meeting Monday, the board announced that Caulfield was being removed of her duties “at her request.” The board then voted to name district Business Administrator and Board Secretary Stephanie Voorhees as acting superintendent, an announcement that was met with jeers from the public. Voorhees would hold that post, under the terms of her present contract, until July 3, school board President Anna Fallon said, at which time the board expected to be able to have current Hunterdon Central interim Superintendent Dr. Johanna Ruberto take the interim post.

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According to the resolution authorizing Voorhees’ appointment as acting administrator, state Superintendent of county schools Juan Torres “has given his approval to the appointment.” The resolution states that Voorhees is “properly certificated, holding an Administrative Certificate with School Administrator endorsement.”

Some parents now allege that those certifications are insufficient to qualify her to accept the role as acting superintendent. Whether that’s true or not is a murky matter.

Voorhees didn’t return a phone call seeking comment; Fallon didn’t respond to email requests for an explanation. Torres’ office directed all inquiries to the state Department of Education.

When pressed, a Department of Education spokesperson didn’t directly answer the question.

“We can confirm in general that a person does need to have a provisional certificate or a standard certificate to serve in the capacity of superintendent,” the department responded in an email statement.

The spokesperson statement further said that when the press office receives inquiries regarding a person’s education credentials “we always ask the person to file” a request for documents under the state’s Open Public Records Act.

Spokesperson Michael Yaple didn’t respond to an email or phone message seeking further clarification.

The opaque statement suggests that Voorhees may be able to qualify for a waiver of the credentials typically required for her to take the post. If anyone in authority actually knows whether such a waiver is allowed under state rules, or who would be entitled to grant that waiver, they aren’t talking yet.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for June 26. Meanwhile, an effort is also underway to remove Fallon from the school board.

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