Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Garnell Bailey is New Interim Superintendent

Late Tuesday (Dec. 11, 2007) the Board of Education voted to accept the resignation of Interim Superintendent Peter E. Carter on Dec. 21, 10 days earlier than previously anticipated.

The board then approved the appointment of Human Resources Director Garnell Bailey to serve as interim chief school administrator, effective Dec. 21.

The actions came after an executive session that followed a work-and-study meeting. Even though votes are normally taken at business meetings that follow the work & study meetings, Board President Patricia Barksdale noted the legal notice for Tuesday’s meeting stated, “Action may be taken.”

Carter left before the vote and was not available for comment. He had been receiving $850 per day since June 11 to serve as interim chief school administrator. His term was to continue through June 30, 2008, but due to an unexplained contretemps at an October board meeting, Carter, Interim Business Administrator/Board Secretary Michael Donow and Interim Assistant Superintendent Walter Rusak all decided to quit Dec. 31.

Bailey, a product of Plainfield schools including Washington Elementary School, served in administrative roles in Newark and Camden before being named Human Resources director in Plainfield for the 2007-08 school year.

After being named interim superintendent, Bailey said, “We’re going to hold it together for the sake of the children. Mr. Carter designed the road map. All we have to do is hold it together till the new superintendent is appointed.

“We can do it,” Bailey said.

The district has been without a permanent superintendent since Paula Howard resigned in June. Business administrator/board secretary Victor Demming resigned in May.

The board approved hiring Hazard, Young & Attea in August to conduct a superintendent search. After eliciting a desired profile for the next superintendent in October, the firm projected a screening that would result in finalists for consideration early in 2008.

Among the more unusual attendees at Tuesday’s meeting were former school business administrator/board secretary Gary Ottmann, who served in the administration of former School Superintendent Larry Leverett. Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs also attended, along with her confidential assistant Barbara James and bodyguard Police Officer Richie Brown. Both Robinson-Briggs and James are former board members, but neither spoke during the meeting.

Ottmann declined comment on why he attended, but normally personnel matters emerge at the business meeting, which this month is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 18 at Cook School on Leland Avenue.

--Bernice Paglia


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