Category Archives: Joan Minnuies

Mid’Town Board Of Education Disfunction Leads To Yet Another Superintendent Resignation; Interim Superintendent Pat Houston Storms Out Of Meeting

It’s a shame that I can’t make it to every meeting that goes on around town but luckily there are sources of information like friends, neighbors and Middletown-Patch to keep me informed. After reading what went on during last night’s Middletown Board of Education(BOE) meeting, there isn’t much left to say about how totally dysfunctional the current make up of this BOE is.

According to Middletown-Patch (you can read the article below) Middletown’s interim school Superintendent Pat Houston resigned suddenly and walked out of the meeting due to a 5-2 “No” vote on accepting Houston’s recommendations to hired Middletown High School South Interim Principal, Patrick Rinnella, as it’s new full-time Principal, replacing Dr. Anthony Shallop.

If you remember, last month there was a huge outcry from parents and students when Shallop was demoted as South’s Principal and returned to his former position as a science teacher within the school by the BOE. And to add to Houston’s sudden resignation last night, Shallop also suddenly resigned his position within the school system.

Now that Houston has resigned, Middletown BOE will be looking for it’s fourth Superintendent since January with the possibility of a fifth and High School South will be with out a Principal to start the school year.

When will this insanity stop? I have kids in the school system myself and it’s starting to make me very angry at the direction in which Middletown schools seems to be heading – it’s been all downhill for the past 16 months or more.

I would be remiss however if I didn’t commend board members Vinnie Brand and Mike Mascone for trying to end the craziness last night by voting to approve Pat Houtson’s recommendation of Patrick Rinnella. If approved, Rinnella’s appointment as South’s Principal, as controversial as it my have been, would have shown that a little common sense and stability returned to the school system.

In an abrupt, unexpected move, Middletown Township Schools Interim Superintendent Patrick Houston, minutes ago during the Board of Education

meeting, announced his resignation.

“I can’t work under these conditions,” Houston said before leaving the meeting. “Tomorrow I will be resigning as interim superintendent of schools.”

The public gasped and grumbled as he slammed his microphone down on the dais, at which point Board of Education President Joan Minnuies called for a five-minute recess and Houston clutched his briefcase and walked out of the Middletown High School North meeting venue.

This happened after a contentious majority “no” vote (5-2, with one absent and one abstention) was taken turning down Houston’s recommendation to hire Patrick Rinnella, who was serving as High School South’s interim principal until tonight, as its permanent, untenured principal. A very vocal Vincent Brandt cast one “yes” vote; and Michael Mascone cast the other.

There has been much controversy lately over the demotion of Anthony Shallop, former High School South Principal, and Houston’s rapid recommendation of a new principal. Board members had complained that the move, albeit legal, was made entirely too autonomously by the interim top administrator.

While parents, students and others in the public questioned what they deemed Houston’s lack of transparency about the process to the public and adamantly opposed his earlier recommendation to demote Shallop, they supported Rinella as top candidate to fill the South principal slot.

The majority of the board voted “no” to the recommendation of Rinella’s hiring based on what they saw as a flawed procedure. Those who supported Houston’s recommendation felt that Rinella, regardless of claims of procedural flaw, was qualified for the job and should not be the one to fall victim to board politics.

Rinella declined to comment when seen outside during the break.

Houston, as superintendent, has the legal right to make such a recommendation without any public or board input. Procedure dictates that once such a staff recommendation is made, the board then votes to either sanction it officially or turn it down, with a majority vote. The recommendation then becomes an appointment.

However, in light of recent contentiousness over the Shallop demotion, there has been an outcry from the community to have more input on such decisions. According to the agenda, Shallop, who was due to return to the classroom as a science teacher in September, resigned effective Aug. 30, “for personal reasons.”

While the public, according to comments during the public portion, did not necessarily approve of Houston’s method, they were eager to have a new principal in place at South for the start of the school year.

Tired of what many have called a “revolving door” of administrators in the district, many teachers, administrators and other colleagues applauded the notion of having an administrator in place who has demonstrated commitment to the district and is more likely to stay put.

There were 15 candidates for the job, Houston explained. Fourteen of the 15 were out of district. Rinella was the only in-district contender with experience as assistant principal.

Minnuies, before Houston announced his resignation, had made a motion to revise the procedures by which new administrators are hired.

During the recess, people were outside grumbling, milling around, as the recess extended well beyond five minutes to over half an hour. One woman was crying. Another stormed up to the stage and yelled at the board members after the recess was called.

People were clearly upset over the board voting down Rinella’s appointment as interim principal for South. Much of the source of their malcontent was derived from the fact that with the “no” vote, High School South will begin the school year

without a principal in place.

Board attorney Chris Parton said that it is legal to be without a principal in a school. That fact did not soothe anyone. On the other hand, it is not legal for a school district to operate without its top administrator, the (interim) superintendent. Resignation or not, Houston is obligated by law to stay for a month.

After reassmembling and hearing more disapproving comments from the public and board member Vincent Brandt (who voted “yes” to Rinella), the meeting ended at about 10:45, with a disgruntled public exiting.



Leave a comment

Filed under Dr. Anthony Shallop, Joan Minnuies, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown High School South, Middletown Patch, Mike Mascone, Pat Houston, school superintendent, Vinnie Brand

Letters To The Independent Expressing Outrage Over The Demotion Of Dr. Shallop Have BOE Members Defending Reassignment of Principal

According to the this weeks edition of the Independent (already posted online), many residents had sent letters to the publisher this past week, expressing outrage over the action taken by the members of the Middletown Board of Education that lead to the demotion of the very popular Principal of Middletown High School South, Dr. Anthony Shallop.

So many letters in fact that the Independent felt compelled to follow-up on these letters of support by contacting BOE members for a response, all of whom defended their decision to reassign Dr Shallop to his previously tenured position as a teacher at High School South via email.
…Board Member Vincent Brand said in an email that his decision was based on the facts relevant to the issue, which by law cannot be discussed in public because the issue remains personal and confidential.

“It would have been easy to vote the popular vote last night, but that would have been, for me, unethical to do so.”

According to Brand and board Vice President Christopher Aveta, the board gave Shallop a chance to address the issues prior to the vote.

“I fought hard for Dr. Shallop to get into executive session so that he would have every opportunity to impact the vote and so that he could hear directly from the board the specific issues at hand,” Brand said.

“He was given that chance and could not positively affect the outcome.”

Board member Michael Donlon was the only board member to vote against the reassignment.

“I had not been totally convinced the decision was correct, therefore I could not go along with it,” he said in an email.

“Granting tenure to someone is not a decision that is taken lightly,” board President Joan Minnuies said in an email.

Minnuies said that the decision was three months in the making and involved discussions with the district’s central office and Shallop.

“I feel that the information provided to the board by both the central office and Dr. Shallop himself has convinced the board that the decision we ended up making was the correct one,” she said….

This vague reasoning by BOE members is a little hard to swallow based on some of their comments. It seem as if the decision to reassign Shallop was made long in advance and no matter what he would have said to the Board in Executive session, his words would not have been convincing enough to change their minds and will remain a mystery until someone decides to break the silence and explain what really went on between Dr. Shallop and the BOE that lead to his reassignment.
Comments left on my previous post on this subject are full of speculation, name calling and innuendo as to the real reason why Anthony Shallop was stripped of his duties as Principal of High School South and reassigned back to his original teaching position that he had held before becoming principal a couple of years prior.
Some of the comments seem to have merit while others are a little farfetched, you can read them and decided for yourself which ones seem legitimate and which ones are bogus. The bottom line however, is that when the truth comes out someone will have egg on their face and will have some explaining to do.
The Independent posted online two letters that were sent them supporting Dr. Shallop in his fight to retain his position. The letter sent by Patricia Wood,Resident heartbroken over Board of Ed. action, was referred to in the article posted by the Independent, while the other written by Judy Krivitzky, Parent urges Mid’twn BOE to reconsider principal’s removal (An open letter to the Middletown Board of Education and Interim Superintendent Patrick Houston), collaborates and supports much of what is contained in Patricia Wood’s letter.
They are both worth reading, as is the article about the BOE defending Shallop’s reassignment. Somewhere in between the three, the truth lies.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dr. Anthony Shallop, Joan Minnuies, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown South High School, reader comments, reassignment of duties, school principal, the Independent, Vinnie Brand

Middletown School Board Election – Budget Passes & Cody Lost

For all of those who voted in todays Middletown School Board election the results are in:
The budget passed by a vote of 4621 yes  2887 no 
All three incumbents were also re-elected to 3 year terms

Minnuies with 3976 votes
Skelton with 2894 votes

Donlon with 2423 votes  
I would like to thank all of you who read my earlier post and took my advice to follow the ABC rule, Anyone But Cody. James Cody lost by a good margin. 
The Board of Education is no place for a person with a personal ax to grind and an agenda against others, and who serve honestly and with the best intentions of our children in mind.

Leave a comment

Filed under budget passes, Donlon, James Cody, Joan Minnuies, Middletown Board of Education, School Board elections, Skelton