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.