Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Gary Returns to Help District

One of the Plainfield school district’s most revered members will be coming out of retirement to help out in its time of major transitions.

A walk-on resolution approved Tuesday will bring William E. Gary back to service from Sept. 24 to Nov. 30 for three to four days per week at $450 per day as Interim Director of Special Services.

Besides his professional career as past director of Special Services, Gary’s decades of avocational work with the New Horizons College Club are detailed on the group’s web site. I wrote several of the Courier News articles that are posted there and came to know the affection and respect the community had for Bill Gary.

Most of the articles are in Adobe Reader format and you can use the magnifying glass tool on the bar to enlarge the text. In a nutshell, Gary helped hundreds of students achieve college placement and professional success. I recently did a freelance article for the Courier News on the New Horizons College Club, which is carrying on his mission with those who benefited from Gary’s early work now in charge as board members.

The school district under the direction of Interim Schools Superintendent Peter Carter’s “post-6/11” team is dealing with numerous negative findings of a state monitoring team that visited early in 2007. After former Schools Superintendent Paula Howard abruptly quit in early June, Carter was hired and was left to deal with the fall-out of the report. Monitors found irregularities in personnel assignments, policy lapses, compliance with state regulations and many more issues.

I got to the meeting late, having forgotten it started at 7 p.m. and not 8 p.m. According to Dottie G., or as some style her, Dottie K., Carter said about 30 percent of the negative findings have already been addressed.

The district can review and dispute any of the findings, but it seems Carter has chosen the course of addressing and fixing as many as possible. The district will face a follow-up review in six months.

The very positive atmosphere that Carter initially projected was challenged Tuesday when Shirley Johnson-Tucker, representing the supervisors and administrators of the district, took issue with the board’s acceptance of the resignation of Hubbard School Principal Doris Williams. The resignation, effective December 2008, was accepted as of Sept. 18 with her reassignment to “mentoring and observation and evaluation of the district’s new elementary and secondary teachers,” among other matters.

While Johnson-Tucker claimed her group’s association members were being moved around without regard to notification rules, Carter said the move was due to a direct order of state Deputy Commissioner of Education Willa Spicer and staff.

According to state records, Hubbard has not met No Child Left Behind standards for
seven years.

In weeks to come, the district will address the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC) report point by point. It may be more than the average citizen can bear, but Plaintalker will do its best to report on the outcome.

--Bernice Paglia


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