Late Congressman's Daughter Gets Promotion From Paterson Public Schools



PATERSON, NJ – City education officials have appointed the daughter of the late congressman, Donald Payne, to the $113,630 position of interim Director of Non-Traditional Programs, a job in which she will oversee the city’s alternative schools.

Nicole Payne started working for Paterson Public Schools about a year ago at a $100,000 salary when she became principal of the newly-formed YES Academy, an alternative school. Payne “quickly demonstrated that our other alternative education schools would benefit from her leadership skills,’’ said Terry Corallo, spokeswoman for the district.

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When asked whether Payne’s political connections factored into her appointment, Corallo responded, “Leaders like Nicole Payne are tremendous assets for this district.  The alternative education students she serves have truly benefited from her compassion, patience, and guidance.’’

Payne father, New Jersey’s first black congressman, died in March. A prominent Essex County politician, he had served in congress for 23 years. His son, Donald Payne Jr., who is a Newark city councilman, won the Democratic primary in June and now has the inside track to succeed his father.

Nicole Payne worked for the Essex Regional Education Services Commission for 13 years before coming to Paterson, according to Corallo. She started with the commission as a technology teacher, became an administrator, and served as principal at one of the alternative schools the Commission operated, Essex High School, in Passaic.

The Paterson school district previously had someone else in the position to which Payne has been promoted, but that person’s expertise was more administrative and she lacked a Payne’s background in alternative education education, officials said. Alternative schools are designed for students with behavioral and emotional issues that educators deem too disruptive to handle in a regular school environment.

Here’s how Corallo described Payne’s job duties: “She will supervise the administrators at the other alternative schools to provide cohesiveness, coordination, and supervision in areas student achievement, instruction, curriculum, school culture, parent engagement, and community involvement of all alternative schools, under direct supervision of Assistant Superintendent, Eileen Shafer.”

Payne’s appointment is one of many job changes being made by district officials this summer. Some of that stems from the routine reshuffling that happens between school years and some results from the reorganization the district is conducting of his administrative staff.

Officials announced the reorganization about a month ago, but have not yet released details of what changes would be taking place.

In addition to Payne’s appointment, the personnel report made public at Wednesday’s Board of Education workshop meeting also listed two other changes.

Gloria Bodker has been appointed to the $135,550 position of Executive Director of Programs for Students With Disabilities. That’s a newly created job. Bodker previously had been Supervisor of Early Childhood Education-Special Education. Her old salary was $117,900.

Daisy Ayala has been appointed to the $120,000 job of Assistant Business Administrator. Ayala had been the district’s accounting/finance manager, a $105,000 position. But since January she has been serving as interim business administrator, filling a vacancy when the previous person overseeing the district’s business operation suddenly resigned. As interim business administrator, Ayala has been paid $140,000.

The district is still reviewing resumes of applicants for the business administrator’s job and officials are not sure whether it will be filled by the start of the school year in September, Corallo said. In the meantime, Ayala will remain as the top-ranking person in the business office, according to Corallo. 

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