Letters to the Editor

An Open Letter to the Plainfield Board of Education


PLAINFIELD, NJ - June 26, 2017

This is where I stand on the appointment of an Assistant/Acting Superintendent.  I have no attachment to Dr. Debra Sheard. If you recall, I was one two people who voted against her initial appointment as Assistant Superintendent in September of 2016.  I had reason to believe she was the “King Makers” candidate and after the disaster of a former Superintendent I was not about to allow that to happen again. As it turned out -Dr. Sheard is more than capable of fulfilling her position as Acting/Assistant Superintendent.

I watched a former Superintendent make one bad decision after another as the community felt she was directly controlled by a couple of key board members who felt it was their place to lead the district with no qualifications -namely Campbell and Edwards.  I know this and they know I know which is why you will never see them confront me on it. This is the direct reason we all fell out. I will state my appreciation to Wilma and John Campbell for initially getting me involved with the school board in 2011; however, I don’t agree, subscribe, nor condone their school board politics as it has proven to be detrimental to our district. 

Sign Up for E-News

As a result of previous board members refusing to make the hard decisions to keep Plainfield School District fiscally in order, and their lack of direction and accountability, we are now facing 5 charter schools, an 8 million dollar deficit this year and a 10 million dollar deficit in the upcoming year.
I have never believed in patronage jobs and have personally refused to recommend friends and family if they were not qualified. I have not and will not interfere with the duties of any Superintendent beyond what I'm charged with as an elected board member. The Superintendent will either sink or swim based on their merits. However, I would prefer they excel, which is in the best interest for all involved.

As I see it, the exact reason certain people don't want Dr. Sheard in place is because she makes her own decisions and is refusing to bow to the whims of board members when it doesn't make sense. Certain board members exhibit a severe lack of understanding of what a board member's role is. I have watched training occur and at the time it seemed that fellow board members absorbed the content only to watch them a few days later do the exact opposite of what was taught.

We were elected by the people to represent them and use our best judgment when making decisions. Do you honestly feel that is what we're doing?

The majority of the board led by the current board president were all for Dr. Debra Sheard, as Assistant Superintendent in September 2016. The board president is also the very person who tapped Dr. Sheard (without consulting the board) to take the Acting Superintendent position in February 2017. Now the Board President is the most vocal about removing and non-renewing Dr. Sheard as Assistant Superintendent without a formal evaluation. This board requires district leadership to provide evidence when their recommendation is to non-renew staff based primarily on evaluation and day to day performance.

This board has yet to conduct an evaluation on our only employee that we’re scheduled to replace this week.

Our inexperienced Board President has moved from looking for an Interim Superintendent who has “no past or future in this district” to looking for an in house teacher or administrator to bridge the gap and “lead the district.”
We obviously have a highly educated staff. However, in my opinion, this new in house search is obviously an act of desperation based on the independent leadership of Dr. Sheard in the day to day operation of our school district. Something it appears the current board president is uncomfortable with.

Tonight at 6:30pm we are scheduled to interview internal candidates for the Acting Superintendent position. None of the candidates know what we’re looking for in an acting superintendent. There was no prior discussion about questions we will ask of the person who will be in charge of figuring out staff renewals and a budget crisis that includes an 8-million-dollar deficit within their first 30 days. Continuing with this process will only set this person up for failure and an immediate embarrassment to our district According to the Board President we will choose a new Acting Superintendent within one four hour meeting.

I ask you all (for the sake of our students) to consider what I’ve shared and vote for what's right for our district.

I urge you to Re-appoint Dr. Debra Sheard as Assistant Superintendent and Acting Superintendent through 2017-2018 as we address the immediate critical areas of concern and begin to conduct a thorough search for permanent superintendent.

Dorien Hurtt
Board Vice President


The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


You Meet the Most Amazing People on the Trail

The weather cooperated this weekend, so I went for more than one hike. After all, there are only just over fifty days before my walk to Maine commences, so why not.

This Saturday, some friends dragged me away from housecleaning (thank you!) for a quick jaunt through Watchung Reservation.  While we were there, we ran into two individuals from Westfield; the cosplayers introduced themselves ...

Go Take a Walk

Friday, March 30 was Take a Walk in the Park Day, so I did.  I really didn't have an excuse to not do so; the sun was shining, I had the day off, and I had no plans for the rest of the day.  So after a session with Abbe, my trainer at LifeTime Fitness, I made the short trip to Lake Surprise in Watchung Reservation. 

As I made my way around the lake, it was easy to see how ...

Upcoming Events


Thu, April 26, 4:00 PM

Hannah Atkins Community Center, Plainfield

Homework Helper



Thu, April 26, 6:00 PM

Plainfield Public Library, Plainfield

The Crucial Keys to Home Ownership

Home & Garden

Holy Savior Academy Excels in the Arts - Annual Spring Musical, Art Show to Take Place in May

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The students and staff at Holy Savior Academy, a pre-K3 through eighth grade AdvancedED accredited Middlebrook Deanery Catholic School located in South Plainfield, have been busy gearing up for two widely anticipated spring events. In May, the drama club will present its 4th annual Spring Spectacular Musical and a school wide art show will also take ...

EPA Selects Camden, NJ to Receive $400,000 in Brownfield Grants to Revitalize Blighted Properties, Promote Economic Redevelopment

April 25, 2018

New York, NY - Camden was among 144 communities selected for Brownfields Environmental Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup grants. The two grants totaling $400,000 will provide the community with funding to assess, clean up, and redevelop underutilized properties while protecting public health and the environment. A total of $54.3 million will be provided to brownfields sites ...

Politics IS Government in Union County

April 22, 2018

After Bruce Patrson of Garwood was stopped from speaking at the Union County freeholder meeting of March 22 regarding the politics behind refusing to give the party line to a sitting freeholder I thought this brazen suppression of free speech could not go unanswered. A the the April 19 meeting I answered with these comments.

After ten years of following government in Union County I conclude ...

Fallen Officer Identified. ‘A Sad Day for Paterson’ as Police Officer Loses Life in Car Accident

April 23, 2018

UPDATE- Several sources familiar with Sunday’s tragic accident have identified the fallen officer as Tamby Yagan, a 13-year veteran of the Paterson Police Department.

PATERSON, NJ- On what Paterson Superior Officers Association President Mason Maher called “a sad day for Paterson” a city police officer lost his life on Sunday after being involved in a motor vehicle ...

Blood Drive en Plainfield High School el viernes

April 12, 2018

PLAINFIELD, NJ - Un esfuerzo de sangre se llevará a cabo el viernes en Plainfield High School en asociación con la Cruz Roja Americana.

¿Alguna vez se ha preguntado qué le sucede a la pinta de sangre que dona?

Según la Cruz Roja, la donación se almacena en refrigeradores helados hasta que se transporta a un centro de la Cruz Roja y se escanea en una ...

Springtime Advice from Rapps Pharmacy

April 17, 2018

It may not feel like spring, but that spring weather is right around the corner and so is allergy season!  Here is some friendly advice from Rapps Pharmacy, your neighborhood pharmacy:

Combating the Allergy Season

As seasons change and pollen counts rise, more and more people clash with the aggravating symptoms of seasonal allergies. Beginning in February and lasting into early summer, ...

Featured Business: NJ Printing & Embroidery LLC

Featured Business: NJ Printing & Embroidery LLC

Nestled in the heart of Plainfield is NJ Printing & Embroidery, a family-owned business providing digital screen printing and embroidery for custom shirts, caps and other items.

The company also offers custom printed business cards, fliers, banners and storefront vinyls, and can provide expert graphic art design upon request.

Eric ...

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse


MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo

Retro Review: Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (Citadel Press, 1970)


How does a reviewer do justice to a book called “the great American novel”? I first read Johnny Got His Gun during the Viet Nam war, when young people, nationwide, were protesting fighting in a war that was a senseless waste of life; a war in which the United States had no business participating.

The Truth About My Reading

The Truth About My Reading

I didn't get my Composition and Literature teacher at Montclair State College at all. A crusty old man with a dour disposition, Mr. Smith always seemed angry and rude. He appropriately intimidated freshmen, even me, an English major, who found this common core course beneath my dignity. Frankly, as a graduate of Highland Park High School, and a survivor of Mrs.

The German Girl

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa (Washington Square Press, 2016)

For each of the twelve million victims murdered during World War II there is a gutwrenching story to be told. I have read hundreds of memoirs, biographies, plays, and novels that recount the stories of the martyrs; some are exceptional, some are fair. The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa, an award-winning journalist, ...

The Skin Collector

The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver (Grand Central, 2014)

Jack the Ripper. The Boston Strangler. The Texas Watchtower Killer. The Zodiac Killer. The Angel of Death. The Butcher. BTK. The police and the press have a long history of dubbing serial killers with names that catch the attention of the public, usually having the effect of instilling greater fear and selling more print media so that ...

Queen Mary and the Cruiser

Queen Mary and the Cruiser by David A. Thomas and Patrick Holmes (Naval Institute Press, 1997)

“Had the forenoon watch and after eating went out onto the fo'c'sle. Just arrived at the top of the ladder by the PO's heads when the wave hit me---waist high---and knocked me over. Looking astern---through the bulkhead door which was open, saw the stern of a ship sticking up out of ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...