PLAINFIELD, NJ - Parents and residents attending the June 27 Plainfield Board of Education meeting were seeking answers to learn who will lead the school district.
At the Board's May 8 meeting, a vote was taken that represented a non-renewal of Dr. Debra J. Sheard, the Acting Superintendent, to her original position as Assistant Superintendent.
Board President Emily Morgan noted that once there is an Acting Superintendent in place, the Board will continue its search for an Interim Superintendent; the Board has contacted five individuals and two have expressed interest in the position.
Resolution Z13 was introduced, stating that the Board believes Dr. Caryn Cooper, who is currently employed by the Board as a Principal in the Plainfield School District, possesses the necessary qualifications and experience to fulfill the role of Acting Superintendent of Schools.
Audience members who came to the microphone asked about additional staff cuts. Dr. Bowen, Interim HR Director, described the "complex process" that "seeks to maximize efficiencies, not cut programs and retain quality of programs."
Parent and Realtor Samseketha Cooper addressed the Board regarding Sheard, saying, "you missed the mark." She continued, "you snatched her from us. I'm embarrassed to be a Plainfield resident and to market homes here."
PEA President Eric Jones pointed out that Westfield has had just two Superintendents in the past twenty years. In the Plainfield school district, he said, "tonight we have met our third Superintendent since January."
The last member of the public who was to speak ceded her position to Plainfield Mayor Adrian O. Mapp.
Mapp began, saying the district has an Acting Superintendent who took it upon herself to engage the community. "I have been told that she has been smacked down because of her engaging the community. And I think that should be encouraged as opposed to it being discouraged. And so I am extremely disappointed that the Board as a whole would take the action that it has taken by refusing to, at a minimum, renew Dr. Sheard's position of Assistant Superintendent."
Mapp said he is often asked what he is going to do about the state of education in our community. Mapp knows he doesn't have an official role in education, but a role he has played in the past eighteen months is to identify individuals who he believes would do a good job, a job that would lead to transformation in the school district. And if that isn’t happening, he said, he "is very disappointed."
"It is important for me to support candidates who are supportive of people like Dr. Sheard, who is the breath of fresh air in the district.”
Mapp continued to address the Board. "You cannot ignore all of these people who are sitting behind me. You can’t ignore the parents in the district. You can’t ignore the people who put you in these positions to be responsible. You just cannot do that, and that's exactly what you’re doing. The search for a Superintendent cannot be some sort of experiment.”
He went on to say, "Board members, I am extremely disappointed in your actions, and I know that there was a better way, and you did not have to treat Dr. Sheard the way you did."