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.