WEST ORANGE, NJ - A standing room only crowd gathered in the Library Media Center at West Orange High School to witness the appointment of Hayden Moore as the new high school principal at Monday night's Board of Education meeting.
Laura Lab, board president, read a prepared statement regarding Superintendent Dr. Anthony Cavanna, who currently is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
The statement pertained to July 18 board meeting, where the Board voted 5-0 to:
1. Not renew Cavanna's contract
2. Place Cavanna on administrative leave with pay
3. Appoint Assistant Superintendent Dr. Donna Rando as acting superintendent
Lab went on to say that the law precluded them from saying more, and asked the community for patience as the board complies with the process.
In addition to the appointment of Moore, Mark Lawrence, a Social Studies teacher at the high school since 2002, was named the new social studies supervisor, replacing Eric Price. Price became principal of St. Cloud Elementary School last fall, and Lawrence has been acting supervisor since Price's departure. Jim Aquavia was named as the K-8 Language Arts supervisor.
The board thanked Arthur Alloggiamento, retiring West Orange High School principal, for his years of service to the district. Alloggiamento has been mentoring Moore and will continue to work with him until Aug. 31. Moore will officially take over on Sept. 1.
Marie DeMeo, principal of Washington Elementary School and head of the West Orange Administrator's Union, then welcomed Moore and encouraged the administrators and teachers to move forward, supporting one another to provide the "best education possible for all students in the district of West Orange."
After a few residents asked questions on the agenda regarding the cost of the new GPS devices to be installed on all school buses (vendor-paid), bus route notification, responsibilities of the 504 supervisor, sending special education students out of district (mandated by study teams and not BOE), and bid thresholds (information that is presented for public purview each year), all answered by the board, the motion was made to approve the personnel items on the agenda, including Moore's appointment.
Rando and each board member then personally congratulated Moore, recalling his years of service to the district and his many accolades. Board member Michelle Casalino noted how much respect the students showed him at the graduation ceremonies in June.
Moore then stepped to the microphone and began by saying "there's no place like home" and emphasized that while he was honored to be named principal, that he recognized moving WOHS forward also required a strong team, and growth by all involved. He encouraged the parents to be involved with their children's high school education by emailing, setting up conferences, and utilizing Naviance and Parent Portal, two online tracking and information systems available. He called on teachers to "rejuvenate their love for teaching" and to work collaboratively. He said it was time to move forward and work, and that he would give it "my best." The crowd responded with a standing ovation as his wife, Sarah, his parents, Felix and Irma, his Aunt Cynthia, and infant son, Hayden Jr., looked on.
In other business, board member Sandra Mordecai mentioned the district's efforts to bring cost savings with energy efficient sensors. Solar panels were found not to be cost efficient at this time.
Public comment then began, and residents raised issues regarding the board and Cavanna's paid leave. The board did not comment.
Concerns also were raised about online commentary by residents regarding Edison Middle School (named a 'Focus' school by the state for the wide difference between various sub-groups of students). Rando responded that she would be meeting with Principal Xavier Fitzgerald to discuss the implementation of initiatives to address the issue, and was confident that the state findings, based on 2010 figures, would be satisfactorily resolved.
The recent NY Times article about NJ schools/municipalities under investigation for possible infractions related to non-removal of independent or part-time contractors from the pension system were discussed by Steve Christiano and Mark Kenney, who both stated that Christiano has been a full time employee of the district since 1988.
Questions regarding ethics charges filed against board members Laura Lab and Megan Brill were addressed by Paul Petigrow, who was confident the charges were baseless and would be dismissed.
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