SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - At a special meeting last Thursday, the South Plainfield Board of Education (SPBOE) voted 7-0 in support of appointing Robert Diehl to a one-year contract as interim principal of the high school, effective July 1. Diehl, an employee with the district for 20 years and the current principal of Roosevelt Elementary School, will replace Ronnie Spring who resigned last month.

“Congratulations... we are very, very happy to have you serving in the interim position and, hopefully, in the future, as the permanent principal,” said SPBOE President Doug Chapman during the May 30 meeting, noting that his son, a current fourth grader at Roosevelt, was fortunate to have Diehl as his principal. “I appreciate all that you do for the children, the school, for the community and for the district as a whole. I wish you the best at the high school and hope for great results...”

Diehl came to South Plainfield in 1999 and worked as a high school social studies teacher for five years. He was the school’s disciplinarian for three years, overlapping in that role for a year when he was named assistant principal. Diehl served as an assistant principal at SPHS until 2009 when he was named first the interim and then the permanent principal at Roosevelt Elementary, serving in that capacity ever since. 

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“It’s a little ‘back to the future’ since I started here at the high school,” Diehl, a resident of Edison, told TAPinto South Plainfield, admitting that while some things at the high school may be the same, a lot has changed over the past decade. 

“It’s a new opportunity; because society changes some of the things that we were dealing with 10 years ago are different now and there are new opportunities and so much more opportunity for growth,” he said, adding that he ‘appreciates the support’ from the administration and SPBOE. "I want to thank them and I will make sure I do a good job.”

“I’d like to welcome Mr. Diehl back to South Plainfield High School for the 2019-2020 school year...returning to his original home in the next month,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Noreen Lishak, adding, “I am confident Mr. Diehl will be an excellent instructional leader for the high school, ensuring the success of our students while supporting the faculty and staff. Mr. Diehl, you are fortunate to lead such a wonderful group of students at the high school and we are fortunate to have you. I wish you nothing but success in your new position and success in the 19-20 school year.” 

Last Month, US News & World Report ranked the borough 9th through 12th grade school as the 96th ‘Best High School’ in New Jersey; there are a total of 430 in the state. As principal, Diehl said his goal is not only ensure that SPHS remains on the list, but that its rankling improve. 

“I am happy we are in the Top 100... that’s great...but I want more. I want more for the kids and residents of South Plainfield,” Diehl told TAPinto, adding, “Realistically, we could be in the 80s, if not lower. “If we can bring that number down it’s a win-win and everybody will benefit. That’s my goal.”

While he’s excited to start the next chapter of his career, leaving the elementary school he has called home for 10 years, said Diehl, is, for lack of a better word, ‘bittersweet.’ “I hate to use that term because it’s trite and everyone uses it but the fact is there are some really wonderful people at Roosevelt and I will miss working with them, but we are in the same district,” said Diehl. “I will see them. I’m going to visit. I’ll be around.” 

All nine members of the SPBOE were present for the special meeting, however, Vice President Tom Cassio and member Jim Giannakis abstained from the vote; members of both their families work for the high school. 

Following the vote, some members extended their congratulations and best wishes to Diehl. 

“Congratulations Mr. Diehl. Well deserved. I know you’ve put a lot of yourself into this district...” said BOE member Debbie Boyle. 

“Congratulations on this appointment. It’s well deserved,” BOE member Sharon Miller said. “Congratulations and much success.”

“This is the best job in the district... being a high school principal…” added BOE member John Farinella, himself as high school principal in Rahway. “It really is.”

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