‘Concerned Parents’ Lobby for Elementary School Principal’s Job

BOE president says there will be a principal in place at Fort Lee School No. 1 by the beginning of the next school year but says current principal, Kristine Cecere, whose contract was recently not renewed, has rights the school board has to protect.

Parents, students, faculty and community members last week at the Fort Lee Board of Education’s regular business meeting for two teachers whose contracts recently were not renewed.

But seventh grade Language Arts teacher Christina Martelo and seventh grade Science teacher Ian Zellman were not the only people in the school district who were not renewed this year.

principal Kristine Cecere is also among those in the district finding herself in a similar situation, and the decision not to renew her contract has some parents concerned about leadership at their children’s school moving forward.

It was nearly a year ago that after her contract had previously not been renewed over what turned out to be an issue with her credentials.

One parent, Stefanie Stuart, went as far as to save Cecere’s job last year.

Fort Lee Board of Education president Arthur Levine told Patch this week that parents needn’t be concerned, at least as far as having a principal in place at the elementary school for the 2012-2013 school year goes.

“There will be a certified principal in that school at the start of the school year,” Levine said, emphasizing process, and that he can’t comment specifically on Cecere’s non-renewal.

“She’s represented by counsel throughout all of this,” Levine said. “She has a right to request, in writing, the reasons for non-renewal. The district then has a period of time to respond. She is then entitled to what’s known as a Donaldson hearing. She can choose that in a public venue, or she can choose it to be private just with the board, and we will hear both sides.”

Patch received the following letter from a group calling itself “Concerned Parents” in support of Cecere:

Dear School One Community Members,

Are you aware of the situation that Mrs. Cecere’s contract was not renewed for the 2012-2013 school year? In light of what Mrs. Cecere has managed to accomplish in the past two years as Principal of School One, we believe the non-renewal of her contract is a detriment to our children.

In addition to being responsible for 630 Pre-K to 6 grade students, including 88 special education students, and 89 staff members, Mrs. Cecere has many notable accomplishments:

  • Schools in New Jersey are evaluated annually and must meet progress goals. When Mrs. Cecere took over as Principal of School One, the previous school year evaluation (2009-2010) showed many areas that were unsatisfactory, resulting in the school not meeting “Adequate Yearly Progress”. Within her first year, the school met 41 out of 41 categories. The school is now working on becoming a Blue Ribbon School.
  • Mrs. Cecere effectively implemented collaborative classrooms in all grades.
  • Mrs. Cecere developed and implemented a series of Parent Workshops, including providing translators in 3 languages and providing childcare.
  • Mrs. Cecere implemented intervention and referral services (a group that meets monthly to collaborate on how to best address the needs of students who are identified as experiencing educational or emotional challenges by their teacher).
  • Mrs. Cecere supported students by establishing tutoring programs.
  • Most importantly, Mrs. Cecere is at the front door or on the playground every morning greeting and welcoming School One students.

If you agree that our children benefitted from these many accomplishments, among others, and believe that our children would benefit from Mrs. Cecere continuing as the Principal of School One, please make your voices heard by speaking up at the Board of Education meetings or by contacting Mr. Arthur Levine, Board President, at Fort Lee Board of Education, 2175 Lemoine Ave, Fort Lee, NJ 07024. Additional information regarding Mrs. Cecere can be found at www.visualcv.com/kristinececere.

Our children need us to stand up for their best interests.

Concerned Parents

William Mays May 16, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Wow the School Board must be brain dead
Toni M. May 16, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Maybe we should get rid of the BOE and let the parents, faculty and students run the school because it worked so well in the past. (spoken in my native tongue - extreme sarcasm)
SA May 17, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Mrs. Cecere is a breath of fresh air and an administrator that people should aspire to be. When I think of my dealings with her words like compassion, understanding decisiveness, logic and engaging come to mind. In a very beaurcratic world, Mrs. Cecere cuts through the red tape and seems to always do what is right for her students and faculty. I can say first hand that when my child transferred to the school and I was met with beauracratic excuses by employees of the Board of Ed that were too lazy to do their job and forgot they were dealing with Children and their well being, she stepped in, made things happen and ensured a transition for my child that was nothing less than flawless. Whoever is behind the notion of not renewing her contract need to take a hard look in the mirror and remind themselves that they are supposed to be in the role they are in to ensure our Children have the best AND, Mrs Cecere is just that, Simply the best!!
lia manso May 26, 2012 at 03:51 AM
I don't know what is happening. all I know is that Mrs. Cessarie has been very helpful when we needed. No one seems to know what is the reason why her contract is terminated. Is it politics or a bunch of people who do not like her style.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »