Parents Continue Call for Superintendent's Removal

Parents outraged over Engravalle's continued absence from meetings; also at issue is continued absence of Board member Charlie Luppino.

Superintendent Steven Engravalle did not attend Monday's Board of Education meeting, prompting parents to call for the Board to remove him from his position immediately. Engravalle's absence was of particular concern in light of the fact that the agenda included the Board's adoption of the preliminary budget for the 2013-2014 school year.

"I believe that the adoption of the preliminary budget should be pulled," Paula Colbath said. 

Colbath's concern centered on the fact that the one-page preliminary budget, as attached to the agenda, did not contain any back-up documentation for the figures presented.  

"There's no back-up and there's no opportunity to ask [the Superintendent] questions," she remarked.

Despite the concerns of Colbath, echoed in the remarks of George Porto and United Homeowners president Diane Sicheri, the Board voted to adopt the preliminary budget. Prior to their vote, Sicheri told the Board that it is difficult to trust Engravalle with $61.9 million of taxpayers money when "it's hard to trust him with $167,000 (he's paid in salary)."

Sicheri also noted that Board member Charlie Luppino has missed four consecutive meetings. "He's a voted official," she said. "Where is he?"

The Board assured Sicheri that Luppino's absence is something that they are aware of and will deal with.

Colbath also raised concern over the preparation of the agenda.

"At 3 pm today, there was no agenda," Colbath said. "Why? As a Board your hands were tied and couldn't put an agenda up."

When asked by Colbath if he met with Engravalle last Wednesday to set Monday's agenda, Board President Jimmy Park replied that he did not meet with the Superintendent on Wednesday. Park went on to explain that he "made it clear" to Engravalle that they should meet Friday evening to go through the resolutions. However, Park said that they did not meet.

Park clarified that in the language of the resolutions, where stated "upon the recommendation of the Superintendent of Schools," he did not speak directly with Engravalle, but received the recommendation through a text that Engravalle had sent to his secretary who notified Business Administrator and Board Secretary Cheryl Balletto. Balletto offered that regarding the grant application, Engravalle responded directly to her via email.  

Howard Pearl reiterated his request from the previous meeting requesting that the Board ask the County Board for Engravalle's removal.

"We cannot function--it's time to make a change," Pearl said. "He is no longer our Superintendent."

Upon the recommendation of Board Member Holly Morell, the Board did not approve the payment for four conferences Engravalle requested to attend. One conference regarding school security, and another dealing with school preparedness and emergency planning, will be attended by Asst. Superintendent, Dr. Sharon Amato.

At the close of the public session, the Board retreated to closed session to discuss personnel matters where they said "action might be taken." Over an hour later they emerged, having taken no action. 

When questioned, Park would not confirm that Engravalle was the topic of the closed session discussion.

Tune in for continuing coverage of Monday's Board of Education meeting.


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The Invisible Man February 28, 2013 at 11:52 PM
The transparency of the board of education is wrapped in cellophane. I have watched all the recent board meetings and there is definitely something amiss. From my opinion the BOE could have reprimanded in some way at this point using this part of his contract (cut from the contract article) - Proceedings pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A: 17-1 which deals with removal during terms of office which essentially says that he shall not be dismissed, suspended or have his compensation reduced except for neglect, misbehavior and other offenses. I would consider his behavior at this point to be neglectful from the seat I have. This begs the question: What is the Board of Education hiding from the public about this situation? Whose but is being covered by them not taking action against the superintendent. It is very clear from one of the meetings I watched where Mr. Engravalle was in attendance there is a serious issue between from The president of the BOE and Mr. Engravalle. So much so that the president tried to silence him in the middle of answering a question. I wonder what he is afraid the superintendent is going to say. So I ask again, What is the BOE hiding?
Patrick Won March 01, 2013 at 04:00 AM
If they pay him out to leave, they should be brought up on some kind of charges because they are being neglectful.
Joes March 03, 2013 at 12:54 PM
The BOE and Mr. Engravalle are running joke, the students,parents and all the taxpayers deserve much better than we have been receiving. Fort Lee is a good community filled with great people. We should have a BOE and superintendent that puts thee needs and welfare of the children first. Neither have done their jobs and I say get rid of the bunch . Lets us as a community install a board and super that is responsible, honest and willing to the right job. Our children should have the best instead we get the Three Stooges act.
William Mays March 03, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Its even more of a joke when we aren't allowed to comment on the Superintendent because it might offend a certain community member.
Quin March 04, 2013 at 02:56 AM
Jesus Christ....RESIGN YOU STUPID ****


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