Fort Lee BOE Accepts School Superintendent's Resignation
Fort Lee Board of Education accepts the resignation of Steven Engravalle as Superintendent of the Fort Lee School District.
The Fort Lee Board of Education accepted the resignation of School Superintendent Steven Engravalle during Monday's special work session.
When asked for a reason for the Board's decision to accept Engravalle's resignation, Board Attorney Dennis McKeever said, "The relationship between the Board and Mr. Engravalle has been irretrievably severed and broken."
The Board voted on three resolutions regarding the separation:
- The Board approved the separation of service agreement of Steven Engravalle effective March 4, 2013.
- The Board accepted the letter of resignation of Steven Engravalle as Superintendent effective March 4, 2013.
- The Board appointed Assistant Superintendent Dr. Sharon Amato as acting Superintendent of Schools effective March 5, 2013.
In response to a question posed by Paula Colbath regarding the terms of Engravalle's separation from the district, McKeever said that he was not able to divulge the strategy or the negotiations regarding the separation of services agreement.
McKeever did say that the terms were arrived through mutual compromise between the two parties.
Included in the terms, Egravalle will be paid a total of $66,624.16. Colbath, asking precisely what that number represented--salary and/or expenses--was told by McKeever that the specific terms of the agreement could not be discussed at this point.
Additionally, the Board has not yet determined the length of time that Amato will be Acting Superintendent, nor were they prepared to comment on their plans going forward to secure a permanent superintendent for the district.
With the exception of Board member Holly Morell, the Board voted in favor of passing all three resolutions. Morell voted in favor the resolution appointing Amato as Acting Superintendent.
Board member Charlie Luppino was not present at the meeting.
At the completion of the vote, some Board members offered their statements. All agreed that the decision was not an easy one to make.
"This is not a decision we took lightly," Ester Han Silver said. "At the end of the day we had to decide what would be best for the students, the district, the staff."
Candee Romba said that the board is looking forward to getting something done in the district.
David Sarnoff came to the conclusion that the only right decision in the interest of the educational welfare of the children of Fort Lee "is to pass the resolutions to move forward to bring Fort Lee public schools to another level."
Helen Yoon said that the decision was difficult for her because she had opposed the appointment of Engravalle.
Peter Suh agreed that in order to move forward the decision had to be made to vote in favor of the resolutions. "It's a result that had to be," he said. "As we move forward we'll be able to do things we were unable to do previously, so this is a good step for us. It's a step forward."
Morell said that she wants the healing to start, but added, "I just felt this was not the right way for me. And that's why I voted the way that I did."
In a prepared statement, Board President Jimmy Park said that only time will tell if this is the right decision, but "it frees this district to move forward so we can focus on what we're supposed to be focused on--providing our children with the best education that we can afford in the safest environment that we can provide."
Park said that fact does not change or hide the fact that "this decision is distasteful."
"The system is broken," Park continued. "Our current predicament shines a painful light to the undeniable fact that we need a fundamental change in the way that we govern and run our public school systems."
"Until that day, however much it sickens me to my stomach to reach the decision that we have made tonight--whether you agree or disagree with our resolution--I hope you can agree with me when I tell you that this board is nothing less than the personification of true guardians and advocates of our children who we will protect and fight within the system that is hopelessly slanted toward the special interest groups within this system under the guise of children's best interest," Park ended.
Correction: Board member Joseph Surace voted in favor of the resolutions.
As of press time, Steven Engravalle had not responded to a message asking for comments.