Paterson Top Stories

City School Principal Says Her Six-Figure Job Requires No Work

f35bd0e6f8756d0bcf7a_santana.jpg
Paula Santana Photo from Paterson Public Schools' website
f35bd0e6f8756d0bcf7a_santana.jpg

 

PATERSON, NJ – After more than 20 years as the principal at School 11, Paula Santana was transferred to a new job last summer. 

City education officials put her in the new position of “principal on assignment” at the district’s administrative offices at 90 Delaware Avenue and they kept her annual salary at $143,156.

Sign Up for E-News

Now Santana is fighting to get her old job back and one of arguments in the legal petition she filed with the New Jersey Department of Education last September is that there was nothing to do in the new position.

 “It became clear that she was simply being placed ‘out of the way’,” says Santana’s lawsuit, “as the new position had absolutely no duties or functions. While struggling to find productivity, the position is essentially to be away from the public eye.”

PatersonPress.com attempted to find out whether the circumstances of Santana's employment changed after she filed the petition. But no one would say. The district’s spokeswoman, Terry Corallo, declined to comment on Santana’s complaint, saying it remained in litigation. Santana and her attorney, William Koy, also declined to speak about the situation.

Santana’s petition highlights a practice that some city school officials call sending people to the “rubber room.’’ In short, it entails transferring educators whose performances may have come under question from their school positions and reassigning them to the district’s administrative offices.

At the start of this school year, Paterson Public Schools had eight people in the “principal on assignment” position and they were making a total of about $950,000. Not all of those individuals were doing a bad job in their previous positions, said school board members and education advocates. Moreover, not all the principal on assignment slots are do-nothing jobs, they say.

“Some of the principals on assignment are working real hard,’’ said Irene Sterling, president of the Paterson Education Fund, an advocacy group. Sterling cited Richard Sanducci Jr. who is working on district initiatives to improve attendance and the registration process.

School board member Errol Kerr said he saw the principal on assignment job as a “utility position.’’ The district tries to match each individual’s skills with tasks that need to be done, Kerr said.

School board president Christopher Irving said he was confident that the principals on assignment, including Santana, were being given productive duties. “You don’t collect all that money without doing anything,’’ Irving said.

The lowest salary among the eight principals on assignment is $120,909 and the highest is $145,996, according to district records provided to PatersonPress.com at the start of this school year. All of the eight principals have been put in the position during the past two years, according to the records.

Grace Giglio, head of Paterson’s Principals and Supervisors Association, said the union has raised some questions about the principal on assignment positions, but has not taken a position against or in favor of the practice of putting some of its members in those positions.

The district’s website includes a six-page description of the principal on assignment job, including a list of 34 functions and responsibilities. Most of them seem rather general, such as Number 5: “Serve as a role model for students, dressing professionally, demonstrating the importance and relevance of learning, accepting responsibility, and demonstrating pride in the education profession.”

In her petition, Santana said she requested a job description, but did not receive one.

Santana suffers from a respiratory disorder that requires her to carry oxygen with her, according to her legal filing. She alleges that an incident involving her disorder precipitated her removal as principal from School 11. She says a “breathing incident” forced her to leave a meeting with state-appointed superintendent Donnie Evans in August 2011 and made it difficult for her to reschedule the session.

After the incident, Santana maintains in her petition that she became the target of harassment and retaliation. Santana alleges that for the first time in her career, one that started in Paterson schools more than three decades ago, she received a substandard evaluation.

The petition says Santana was notified of her transfer in June 2012 and that it took effect July 1. She was told her special assignment would be “compliance reporting,’’ according to the legal papers.

But Santana “objected to this new position as she has never had any compliance training in her career,” the petition said.

Santana calls the new assignment “an insult.” 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Paterson

Paterson Resident Says Let Inauguration of Governor Murphy be an Example for Paterson

January 16, 2018

Dear Editor, 

Today I witnessed the awesome, solemn and peaceful transfer of power from Governor Chris Christie to Governor Phil Murphy thanks to the generous invitation of Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly.

Indeed, this was my first State of New Jersey Governor's inauguration. It was a thrill and an honor to be in attendance.  These are the days that you can truly say that you ...

Passaic County Freeholder Director Sandi Lazzara Teams With Local Non-Profit to Help Homeless

January 18, 2018

PATERSON, NJ- Passaic County Freeholder Director Sandi Lazzara partnered with Paterson based non-profit Global Emergency Response and Assistance (GERA) to honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King by distributing blankets and hot food donated by Al Basha Restaurant to homeless residents in Passaic on Tuesday.

GERA Founder and Director Sikandar Khan said that the organization was established to ...

Paterson’s Dr. Christopher Irving Resigns from Board of Education to Serve in Adminstration of Governor Phil Murphy

January 17, 2018

PATERSON, NJ- Just over 24 hours after taking the oath of office New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has added a Paterson voice to his Administration.

Dr. Christopher Irving, a member of the Paterson Board of Education for nearly eight years, has been appointed as Assistant Commissioner of Education. His role, Irving told TAPinto Paterson, is still evolving but might include helping to ...

Special Needs Prom to be Sponsored by Tim Tebow Foundation

January 20, 2018

NEW JERSEY – Young adults ages 14 and older with special needs are invited to a very special prom night experience, courtesy of the Tim Tebow Foundation.

The foundation will be sponsoring its annual Night To Shine prom at locations across northern New Jersey on Feb. 9 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Attendees can ride to the event in a limousine, they will be treated to hair and makeup treatments, ...

Drink Your Way to a Healthier 2018

January 13, 2018

It’s that time of year again, just 13 days in and you’ve probably already broken that New Year’s Resolution.  “New Year, New Me” has already gone out the window! This will be the year where we actually start going to the gym regularly and eating healthier.  Not so fast!. However, it’s not too late to get back on track, and while fitness and a healthy ...