To the editor:

As evidenced by Kara Basedow's speech at the Flemington-Raritan school board meeting on Tuesday and Superintendent Dr. Maryrose Caulfield’s behavior, it is imperative that Dr. Caulfield be relieved of her duties immediately. Our district and our community need to heal, and the Board has the power to make that possible by naming someone to act in her stead. We need a leader who knows our district and is dedicated to our children. We need someone who will be committed to partnering with the Board and community to restore the trust and faith that have been broken.

Dan Bland has experience with, and is dedicated to, our district and our children. He is familiar with the day-to-day operations of our schools and he understands the needs of our district. During his 11 years as Assistant Superintendent, Mr. Bland has built a strong foundation of trust and respect with our administrators, teachers and staff. We have seen this in his deeds and heard evidence of it in the words of all those who have spoken about him. 

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During the April 27 school board meeting, beloved former superintendent Dr. Jack Farr called Dan Bland a “superior educational leader” and stated that he "exemplified all of the qualities the administrative team was recognized for; intrinsic motivation, respect for students, teachers, and parents; personal and professional integrity; superb educational leadership skills; unselfishness; and a commitment to teamwork.”

Former superintendent, Mr. Greg T. Nolan stated in his letter to the school board dated April 3, 2017 that "With (Mr. Bland's) extensive experience along with his research skills, we moved the district to the point where many districts were sending administrators to our schools to find out what we were doing and how we were successful. The County Superintendent would often highlight FRSD at the superintendent's monthly business meetings."  Mr. Nolan goes on to say, "During Mr. Bland's tenure, he has demonstrated to be a strong educational leader and a compassionate human being. Daniel is the consummate educator; one with a strong work ethic, deep working knowledge of instructional pedagogy combined with the ability to quickly earn the respect of his colleagues, staff, and parents."

Mr. Bland's board-approved job description states that he:

1.     “…assist the superintendent by providing leadership to the professional staff to plan, implement, articulate and evaluate all instructional programs and school district operations."

2.     “Assumes the responsibilities for administering the district in the absence of the superintendent.”

3.     And that he “faithfully perform the duties of Assistant Superintendent, in accordance with (laws and regulations), and the policies and decisions of the Board."

We ask the board to please honor Mr. Bland's contract and job description by appointing him Acting Superintendent to the Flemington-Raritan School District. This would permit the board to relieve Dr. Caulfield of her duties, immediately, thereby allowing us all to begin the healing process.  

Appointing Dan Bland as acting superintendent would also give the Board time to properly interview and vet candidates for interim superintendent and/or superintendent. We need the board to find someone who fits our needs and exemplifies the values of our district.  We need the board to slow down and refine their selection process. It is the only way to earn back the trust of the stakeholders and uphold their duty to our children, our teachers and staff, and our community.

This appointment also makes fiscal sense. According to Dr. Caulfield's contract, our district must pay her salary until September 27, 2017. An interim superintendent is paid roughly $600 per day. By appointing Mr. Bland as acting superintendent, we would be saving money and time. Mr. Bland understands the repairs that need to be made and can hit the ground running. We can begin to repair our district, tomorrow, with no extra cost to taxpayers. This is a win/win.

This will also help contribute to the success of the next interim superintendent and/or superintendent. The person the board hires will be entering a challenging situation and will need to make difficult decisions. The stakeholders' trust in Anna Fallon is irrevocably broken. Therefore any candidate, no matter how brilliant and qualified, interviewed or hired while Ms. Fallon is president of the board, and under such a hurried process, will be suspect. 

We want to trust the board and their decisions. We want to return our focus to our children and our community goals. By making these changes, the board would enable us to do so. The healing would begin and we could work to rebuild trust between our board and our community. 

Rachael Ladd, Raritan Twp.