Board President: Kids Are Safe at Walter T. Bergen School
Parent reads statement inquiring about board of education's investigation of school principal.
In response to a parent's questions regarding Walter T. Bergen School teachers' tension with school Principal Frank Verducci, Bloomingdale Board of Education President Lauren Grecco said Monday the board is confident in the safety of the school's children.
"I just want you to know that the kids are safe in this building," she told James Schalago after he read aloud a prepared statement at the board of education meeting.
Without using Verducci's name, Schalago questioned why the board was not public about the investigation of the teachers' allegations against Verducci, which were read aloud by a teacher at the May 7 board of education meeting. At that meeting, Bloomingdale Education Association President Tiffany Chung alleged Verducci created "unsafe conditions for our students and staff, increased health concerns and fear."
The school's teachers voted 20 to 1, with two abstentions, that they had no confidence in Verducci to lead the school, she said. However, the board of education ultimately voted to renew Verducci's contract for next year.
Schalago said Monday he understood the board was not able to discuss personnel matters, but he felt the board should at least explain that the allegations were considered before renewing the contract.
"The board has spent countless hours hearing all sides," Grecco said.
Board Member Cathy Gurbisz also commented in regards to the board's investigation of the issues.
"It wasn't just guessing or feeling or wishing. There were legalities that we had to follow," she said.
Schalago said he is worried that the value of his property will decrease because homebuyers considering moving to the borough may no longer be interested after the way the situation was handled.
"I believe the board had the power to reverse some of the damage that had been done," he said. "You've done more damage by not saying anything."
Schalago said he did not expect board members to admit they were "wrong" in the way they handled the situation, but hoped they could provide insight as to what measures will be taken in the future to fix the issues between the teachers and principal.
"Unfortunately for us parents, we don't have closure," he said. "Something needs to be communicated to us parents and to the community."
While she said the issue would not be appropriate for the board to discuss, Grecco said professional development training will take place in the beginning of the school year. Grecco also assured Schalago that the children will be well taken care of.
"The children are receiving a quality education here and the kids are in a safe environment and no one up here can discuss the issue," she said.
Board Member Sheldon Bross also defended Verducci and said the board was satisfied in their decision to re-hire him.
"He's a person of quality, a leader of quality and he will lead us through a good educational system," he said.