Thursday, July 19, 2007

School District Anticipates Reforms

The school district’s director of Curriculum and Instruction has been found to be lacking the proper certification and has resigned.

In a “walk-on” item Tuesday, the school board accepted the resignation of Lillie Sipp, effective Nov. 16. The resolution states she will serve as “Supervisor of (for) Special Assignments” until that date. Sipp, also called the Chief Academic Officer, has neither a school administrator nor a principal endorsement, either of which is required to hold a director’s position. She merely holds a supervisor endorsement, according to the resolution.

Sipp came to the district after former Schools Superintendent Paula Howard was hired. Howard resigned in June and since then the board has abolished the ‘chief of staff” position held by Angelina Chiaravallotti, another Howard cabinet member.

Tuesday’s action, along with several personnel transfers also voted on as a “walk-on” item, comes as the district awaits a monitoring report that uncovered deficiencies in all five aspects examined. The district was evaluated earlier this year under a new monitoring program called New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum, or NJQSAC. The state Department of Education looked at five aspects of district functioning - instruction and program, fiscal management, operations, governance and personnel.

Interim Superintendent Peter Carter, hired after Howard resigned, was only on the job for about two weeks when he took part in an exit interview with Union County Schools Superintendent Carmen Centuolo and the head of the monitoring team. The advance word was that deficiencies were found in all areas.

In the resolution on transfers, allusions to the need for improvement and the impending report were cited.

The transfers included the removal of Plainfield High School Director of Guidance Leola Bellazin to an unspecified position; Maxson Middle School Principal Phillip Williamson moved to District Principal – Guidance Services; Christopher Lommerin from Jefferson School Swing School principal to Maxson School principal; Janet R. Grooms from Emerson Swing School principal to Swing School principal for both Emerson and Jefferson elementary schools, both housed in the former National Starch office building on West Front Street.

The resolution on the transfers said it was due to “a myriad of reasons” why the district is in need of improvement due to indicators such as low test scores and the anticipated report.

The report may be released as early as next week.

--Bernice Paglia


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