NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The North Plainfield Board of Education voted on Wednesday to not renew the employment contract of Superintendent Dr. James McLaughlin and approved a leave of absence for him with pay from Dec.1 through the end of his contract, June 30, 2018.
Assistant Superintendent Michelle Vella was appointed and approved by the board as acting superintendent effective Dec. 2 through Jan. 31, 2018.
The meeting, originally scheduled at Watchung School, was shut down by the fire marshal due to overcrowding. The meeting re-convened at the High School auditorium at 9 p.m.
Before adjourning at Watchung School, the Board attorney explained the resolutions.
More than 50 people, including North Plainfield Mayor Michael Giordano, Jr., and Frank ‘Skip’ Stabile, a lifelong resident and fifth generation North Plainfielder both spoke in addition to parents, community members and staff.
And at the end of public commentary, board member David Branan resigned as a member of the Board of Education. Branan was not a part of the board discussions of non-renewal and was not allowed to vote because his wife works for the district.
He received a standing ovation as he left.
The resounding theme of all who spoke was that McLaughlin listened with compassion and empathy and helped to create a feeling of family in the School community.
The crowd was looking for the board to provide a reason why they were voting to not renew McLaughlin’s contract and why he was placed on administrative leave.
The board, even though McLaughlin has waived his rights to privacy, cannot comment on personnel matters.
And a few in the crowd did not speak publicly but said they were not in support of Dr. McLaughlin and attended the meeting to see what happened.