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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Frank Collura February 26, 2013 at 07:36 AM
If you read the employment contract, which is on line, you won't find that there is an easy way to fire this deadbeat Superintendent. Bet he is seeking an "I am out of here" payment from the board. What was the board thinking when it agreed to a contract to pay this incompetent superintendent for three (3) years - a contract which does not require the superintendent to show up? Unbelievable? Read it. It's in the board minutes. Was the board's lawyer sleeping?
Thomas A Bennett February 26, 2013 at 12:16 PM
This is starting to sound like the neverending story Engravelle will not fulfill his duties. I don't know if the Board is intimidated to make a move or they are apathetic or what. I don't have a high opinion of Chuckie Lupino and I mentioned that during the referendum debate which was defeated. It is getting to the point where the people are more concerned about the what is going on than the Board is. These Board Members are going to be up for re-election so let's ask them to fulfill their obligation to the people. If I was still on the Board, I would be drawing up papers with the sleeping Attorney to fire Engravelle for abanding his position and let him sue the Board. The best way to deal with the Engravelle's of the world is to hit him in the pocketbook. For those who are sympathetic to Egravelle(aww he has problems) welcome to the real world we all have problems we deal with while doing our job.
Lone Ranger February 26, 2013 at 01:48 PM
" Trust him with a 61.9 million dollar budget"???? This is a guy who filed for personal bankruptcy !!!!!!! If he can't take care of his own affairs, how can he possibly be fiscally responsible with a huge budget???
Howard L. Pearl February 26, 2013 at 04:23 PM
For once, I have to agree w/ Mr. Bennett. Whatever the risk in firing Mr. Engravalle, i.e. financial ramifications, it is clear that we can no longer function month after month without leadership. Settle with him or fire him; these are the only realistic options.
Fort Lee Truth February 26, 2013 at 06:02 PM
1) As of last week, there were still one or two Engravalle supporters. Are they still out there after the latest dissapearing act? 2) Charlie Luppino is a nice guy, but it is painful to hear him speak. Folks voted him out a few years ago and then voted him back in the following year. Mindboggling. A major contributor to the dysfunction of this Board over the years. 3) Paula Colbath would be a great Board member. Very bright, friendly, knows the issues and asks the right questions. She doesn't show up to meetings to bring attention to herself and actually cares about what's going on.
Upset Fort Lee Resident February 26, 2013 at 07:07 PM
1) Conjuring Ms Mattei........ 2) Correction, Mr. Camelo Luppino, is NICE, ONLY WHEN IT SERVES, MR LUPPINO OWN INTEREST......
Wonk February 26, 2013 at 09:05 PM
It is clear he is looking for a buy out, but his blatant disrespect for Fort Lee and it's children has crossed the line to the point I think the community should fight any deal and not pay him a dime. I hope the board steps up and does the right thing and files the paperwork to have him removed from his position and does not give in to his tactics. If they do not do the right thing, then i hope the mayor will step in. Fort Lee should not negotiate with someone holding its students hostage.
Frank Collura February 26, 2013 at 10:26 PM
Oracle got it right. Fire the guy and let him sue.
William Mays February 26, 2013 at 10:32 PM
Yep, I want to see him lose and have to pay for Fort Lee's legal expenses.
carol simon February 26, 2013 at 10:39 PM
The writing was on the socks re:Engravelle. Too many doubts and skepticsm should have ruled Superman out. I was optimistic before I wasn't.The good part is that we do have leadership within the administration with Dr. Sharon Amato and strong advocates for the district/students like Paula Colbath! (and so many others) I think there are ways to get beyond the power Steve bestows and work around him. Personally, my son, a junior at FORT LEE HS is thriving this school year with great teachers who have inspired him in many ways. For this I am grateful.
Tracy February 26, 2013 at 10:39 PM
Awh shucks! I keep on promising my friends and family that I will no longer get involved on Patch any longer because I am not anonymous and reap the repercussions of that. But since someone conjured me (very clever btw), I cannot stay out of this even if I wanted! ;-) So here is is: I agree with needing to move on..... I have very different reasons and its time to get back to education. I still believe Mr. Engravalle would be phenomenal if life had been a bit kinder in the past year, but that is neither here nor there. Even this eternal optimist must relent..... however, we (Ft Lee public) need to stop this maligning of every single superintendent that is hired. The aka's and pseudonyms are quite interesting in some assumptions. Makes me wonder who they are and where the information is coming from. I fear that several of these pseudonyms are BoE members, their close friends and even employees. There is very clear process when it comes to removing a contracted employee, query Perth Amboy BoE and you will see what we look like to the outside world. So please, let the BoE do what it has to, let Mr. Engravalle move on and lets get back to focusing on education. Hey H! I used spell check this time! xo
William Mays February 26, 2013 at 10:49 PM
So his ex-wife's death last fall, his back injury, and his flu prevented him from meeting with board member's this week? I think his real problem is chronic not-wanting to do his damn job.
carol simon February 27, 2013 at 05:58 PM
Hey Tracy, I commend you on speaking out even if it's not popular at the moment and your loyalty! Your voice is just as important as anyone else's.
Thomas A Bennett February 28, 2013 at 11:56 AM
You've got to laugh. I just read Chuckie Lupino's excuses why he can't come to his Board meetings. Scheduling conflicts, helping his daughter move, attending a planning board meeting in another town. He is not sure he will be running for re-elecion this year when he term is up. Did Steve Engravelle prepare those excuuses? I would really like Chuckie to seek re-election so I could help vote him out.
Howard L. Pearl February 28, 2013 at 03:14 PM
While I agree that Mr. Luppino’s excuses are not exemplary, I think the truth be told is that he cannot no longer emotionally deal with the BOE meetings and the negativity. He has served for many years; that we have to respect. But at this point, perhaps, he should consider stepping down prior to November.
Fort Lee Truth February 28, 2013 at 09:00 PM
All we hear from these school officials is excuses on why they can't do the job. What's worse is a handful (fortunately, it's a handful) who still sympathize with these folks. Charlie needs to resign. Tell folks you're happy to have served the community but feel it's time for someone else to step in as you no longer have the needed time. I would never want to see a whole article about myself missing meetings as the one in yesterday's Record.
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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