HILLSBOROUGH, NJ -Schools Superintendent Dr. Jorden Schiff has resigned and will retire effective Oct. 1.

Dr. Lisa Antunes, assistant superintendent in charge of curriculum, has been appointed acting superitendent, "lasting until further action by the board," according to the second of two resolutions approved by the board at the beginning of Monday's meeting. The first resolution accepted Schiff's resignation "with regret."

The announcement was made at the school board meeting by Board of Education president Judith Haas. Schiff was not present at the meeting.

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Schiff released the following statement on Tuesday:

"Serving as your superintendent for the past eight years has been one of the most professionally rewarding experiences of my career.  We have provided more access to technology for our students, included Mandarin Chinese instruction beginning in first grade, and focused on equity by making Instructional Rounds a common practice throughout the district," he said.

"Hillsborough High School graduates 98 percent of our students with 92 percent continuing their studies at colleges and universities throughout our country.  The number of students taking Advanced Placement courses continues to increase.  The latest national rankings find Hillsborough Township Public Schools #15 in New Jersey, a state just ranked by Quality Counts as #1 in the nation," Schiff added.

"Our accomplishments have been a team effort, and I am very proud of the work of our faculty, staff, administration, Board of Education, parents, and most of all, our students," Schiff said. 

The announcement of his departure comes just as each of the schools in the district are hosting Back to School Nights.

The past school year has been a rough one for Schiff, students, parents, teachers, school employees, administrators and board members.

Teacher layoffs, budget cuts, decreased state aid, an impasse with teachers over a new contract and the resounding defeat of a March referendum that would have raised school taxes to pay for all-day kindergarten and help the school district stabilize its finances have taken their toll.

More recently, parents were notified of a new “Pay to Play” policy that will require students to pay fees between $25 and $100 to participate in extra-curricular activities including varsity sports and clubs.

The most recent meeting between the teachers' union and the Board of Education was held Thursday, Sept. 12 with a state-appointed mediator; it was the third meeting with the mediator since negotiations began, following six other meetings between the two sides extending back to the 2018-19 school year.

The stalemate has now been referred to a Fact Finder, who will evaluate the positions of both sides and recommend a non-bindimg resolution.

School board member Jean Trujillo alluded to the events of the previous school year and the mental stress everyone has been subjected to.

Without elaborating, Trujillo mentioned two letters that had circulated online last weekend critical of the superintendent.

"I don't even know how to express how upset I am about what happened this weekend," she said. "I can only imagine what Doctor Schiff has gone through."

"What a loss for students, teachers and the district," said board member Joyce Eldridge-Howard, saying the letters were "not written in a good spirit. This is not the way our community should behave."

Schiff was chief administrator of a district that has over 7,500 students with more than 1,000 teachers and staff at nine schools.

He was appointed superintendent in 2011, and was selected as the Somerset County Superintendent of the Year by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators in 2015.

The next Board of Education meeting is Sept. 23 at the Auten Road School beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Schiff was chief administrator of a district that has over 7,500 students with more than 1,000 teachers and staff at nine schools.

Schiff has been an educator in New Jersey schools for nearly 30 years as a teacher, vice principal, principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent.

He had been Superintendent of Schools in Readington Township, a K-8 district when he was hired in Hillsborough following a national search.

“Dr. Schiff brought vision to Hillsborough and, under his leadership, we moved the district forward during his tenure. He will be missed.” said Dr. Lorraine Soisson, vice president of the Board of Education. 
 
Antunes has been with the district as Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction since 2005, and previously served as acting Superintendent of Schools in 2007.  Antunes began her career in public schools as a special education teacher in Hillside.

Prior to working in Hillsborough, Antunes served as assistant Superintendent of Schools in Jefferson Township.  She holds a B.S. and M.S. from St. John’s University, and Ed.D. from Seton Hall University.

“Dr Antunes has a long record of tremendous dynamic caring leadership and the Hillsborough Township Public Schools is in good hands with her at the helm,” said ​Business Administrator and Board Secretary Aiman Mahmoud.