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Teachers Have 'No Confidence' in Principal

Three-page statement says Frank Verducci 'lacks trust, respect, communication, leadership skills.'

About 40 parents, teachers and staff from attended the meeting on Monday evening to express their displeasure with Principal Frank Verducci—an administrator they say they have "no confidence" in.

Music teacher and Bloomingdale Education Association President Tiffany Chung began by reading from a three-page prepared statement outlining the BEA's concerns about Verducci, who was not present at the meeting.

"With the change of administration this school year, we at Walter T. Bergen welcomed our principal, Mr. Frank Verducci, and were eager to collaborate with him," the statement said. "Our faculty was open to change. Many of our teachers took time during the summer months to personally welcome him to the district and offer assistance to help Frank transition smoothly into our building.

"Unfortunately, Mr. Verducci lacks trust, respect, communication, leadership skills, a desire to be a part of the school community, and the desire to support the staff. This has resulted in unsafe conditions for our students and staff, increased health concerns and fear. Numerous staff members are not comfortable being in a room alone with him due to his pattern of inconsistency and intimidation. The staff and students have suffered from this atmosphere. Therefore, the teaching staff at Walter T. Bergen will, as always, continue to provide the best educational environment for our students. However, we are no longer willing to tolerate this pattern of non-productive leadership.

"The teaching staff at the Walter T. Bergen School, with a vote of 20 to 1, with 2 absentations, have no confidence in Mr. Verducci's ability to lead this school."

Board President John Pituch interjected a few times as he did not want the public discussing personnel decisions. However, New Jersey Education Association consultant Ron Bivona said "the group is within their rights to express themselves. We're not discussing personnel decisions, we're discussing environment and their concerns."

The group continued with its speech, although Pituch refused to let the group refer to Verducci by name, and a few different teachers took turns giving examples of Verducci's alleged shortcomings in the workplace.

"In the beginning of the school year," teacher Christine Fleyzor read from the statement, "the staff became concerned with [Verducci's] lack of desire to enforce a discipline policy when two of our students were involved in an extreme physical altercation where blood was drawn. Two male teachers separated the students. The board regulation states that this offense warrants parental notification, removal from class environment; conference with administrator or designee; and possible suspension. Both students only received multiple days of detention and were put in the same room with a female teacher to serve it.

"The staff member was worried that the two students would be in another altercation with her being in the middle. Many staff members were concerned about the well-being and safety of all of our students. We wondered what message is sent to the school community when such lax consequences for violent behavior are considered adequate."

Other examples outlined in the statement included when students were caught looking at pornography on an iPhone, the principal allegedly laughed and no consequences were given; he allegedly pulled a student out of class and interrogated the child about the teacher's performance, he allegedly made the child so uncomfortable that the parents had to call the school and Verducci is no longer allowed to have contact with the student; he allegedly harassed a student about payments for a class trip to the point of the parent needing to contact the office to make it stop, among other things.

"I want them to have their voice and I want an answer for this, and as I said this is going to be heard Thursday by your county representative, I believe," Bloomingdale Superintendent Dr. Terrence Brennan said.

"Remember that you are subordinates to this man; you're treading very carefully on insubordination also. I'm warning you, you all can be charged with insubordination, so please be careful."

He added that he didn't want Verducci slandered when he was not there to defend himself.

After a brief recess, Pituch stated the board would not hear any more of the statements. He said the group could submit them and they would be reviewed, but piling on Verducci was out of the question.

Chung then said, "I feel that our right to free speech has been violated."

Members of the audience were further angered by the announcement that Verducci had been granted a contract for next year.

"I would just like to say that I respect each and every one of you 150 percent," Bloomingdale resident Elizabeth Campoli said to the board. "As a team, I have no faith. I don't think it's fair that the public is not allowed to hear this stuff."

eva May 09, 2012 at 12:44 AM
While I appreciate your diplomatic approach, and in a perfect world, it sounds great to "handle issues professionally with the Board of Ed", however, you are talking about a board with a representative who called a parent a name at a recent meeting. Do not paint the teachers as the villains hear, they have tried every approach, and have gotten nowhere. Dr. Brennan has been completely ineffectual in filtering complaints, which there have been many. And the BOE meeting is EXACTLY the place to air concerns... publicly! We all have a right to know who is supposed to be leading our teachers. What is your take on the BOE member who suggested that the conversation be taken out to the parking lot? Sound professional to you???
Scott May 09, 2012 at 01:51 AM
FWIW - Google his name and go to 'rate my teachers'. You will see one of the comments that states, "just do what he asks and you have no problems". He scored a 2.7 put of 5. He worked as an assistant VP in Newark which is another district (like we are becoming) who will take anybody that is willing to accept the position. I wonder how much effort our BoE put into the hiring search. And why wasn't his rehire listed as part of the agenda for a recent BoE meeting? Hiding something I guess. I'd like to hire a private investigator to find out more on his background and credentials...or maybe I can call in some favors to see what falls out of the closet.
wendy May 09, 2012 at 02:16 AM
I am sure there has been lots of favors the administrators in Bloomingdale things were so out of control this year it was Hell for our family. I thought the letter from the teachers was quite pleasant .One of the issues with our child was that she was not taken seriously enough to evacuate her as all children are and to this point was only done once under extreme pressure I wonder how some parents would accept this fact .
Randy W May 09, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Sad
Randy W May 09, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Sad
Ann May 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM
There seems to be a lot of over-the-top emotion being displayed both by the teachers' inappropriate statements reported in the article and those from readers--many all by the same person. While the teachers may have some grievances, it doesn't seem at all proper for them to air those grievances with the children, nor to slander their superior in public without giving him any ability to defend himself. I would like to hear what HE has to say. Since some have written that they found the principal to be professional and caring, it seems a gross exaggeration for the teachers to say some of the outlandish things they have said. What we may have here is one parent with an axe to grind or one teacher who has led others to jump on the bandwagon. But the question we need answered is "why"? It is probable that the new principal took a look at our miserable test scores and decided to do something about it. The teachers may disagree if something extra is being asked of them. But that doesn't make it wrong. He appears to have good leadership qualities but, as so often happens, they are being thwarted by disgruntled and insubordinate employees. Those employees have succeeded in involved parents and GULP children! People always resist change--it's a given. We should try to help the principal achieve his goals of raising our test scores. I will continue below.
Ann May 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM
(to continue) I do not have a child in this school system, but I have read the test scores and followed the controversy. All of us should be responsible to hear all sides before just jumping on the bandwagon. A truly unhealthy atmosphere is created when teachers are gossiping and undermining the principal with the school children. I find that to be unforgivable. I wouldn't want my school-age child to be hearing this stuff from the teachers. If these teachers are unable to get the test scores up over the years, perhaps they should give the ideas of their new principal a try, before slandering him both to the children and the parents. They appear to be behaving in a terribly unprofessional manner. I don't know why the Board of Ed would even listen to them without having the Principal present. It is truly disappointing to read of their actions.
Ann May 12, 2012 at 01:53 PM
There obviously is some kind of problem, but I don't know how you make that jump to your conclusion. I don't think it protects children when they're taught insubordination to the person in charge and drawn into an administrative conflict. I don't say "bravo" to any of them until I hear all sides and they take the dispute to the proper authorities in the proper manner. So far I don't see that, to my disappointment. Children must be taught respect for authority. This is chaotic sounding.
Ann May 12, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I would go to the fire department if there is an evacuation issue and get them right on top of this. I don't find anything "pleasant" in the teacher's letter, however. It strikes me as slanderous.
Randy W May 15, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Ann, First of all, the teachers at Walter T. Bergen are not upset with their principal, Mr. Frank Verducci because he is trying to increase test scores and they are against that. It has nothing to do with test scores. They are expressing their disenchantment with his lack of professionalism,respect, trust, leadership qaulaties Etc. According to what I read, the faculty and staff members have expressed their concerns before to the appropriate person/s but, it fell on deaf ears. I think if the leader of the school is unprofessional and has a "my way or the highway" attitude, he is the one who is creating a hostile work enviroment, an enviroment that will not benefit anyone. Furthermore, I'm not sure that Mr. Verducci, did not have a choice of being at the meeting to defend himself. Most likely he chose not to attend because he knew he was guilty of the accusations brought about by his teachers and staff. In my view, it's only slander if the accusations are untrue. Moreover, you said, you have have no children attending that school, which may also suggest, you have not met Frank Verducci. I think if you had met him in person, you would be agreeing with the staff at Walter T. Bergen. I also don't believe that, "they all jumped on the bandwagon". We live in a democracy and they did what they believe was needed to change the current situation in order to foster a positive learing enviroment for the students. If I had the power, he would be fired!
Ann May 16, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Randy- Having been a teacher for many years I know that there are appropriate ways for dealing with disagreements. It is evident from the article above that Mr. Pituch and the Superintendent were aware of the inappropriateness of what took place and tried to put a stop to it. BOE members have expressed confidence in the Principal and I have to assume that they have access to all facts and to information that the rest of us (who do not even attend meetings) don't have. Of course, the easier solution is for those who are unhappy to simply join the BOE. There are always vacancies and they always seem to be seeking new members. Then, as insiders, we'd have access to the real facts. Change must be made in an orderly and appropriate manner, that does NOT involve gossiping with parents and children. That's a huge no-no. If you're not a teacher at WTB then your information is second hand. And all I'm saying is we should keep an open mind until the facts are out on both sides.
Johnny come lately May 16, 2012 at 12:39 PM
If you don't have respect from your subordinates, you're fried. Even if an "understanding" is reached, it will always be that underlying sense of discord. The BBOE should follow the example of their neighbors, the KBOE, and do the ole' administrative shuffle.
Ann May 16, 2012 at 12:53 PM
You are right in your first sentence. Agreed. But for your second sentence, I think the BOE needs to make its own fact findings rather than follow another town. This would make the third principal that the teachers have been dissatisfied with by my count. They didn't like the predecessor, they didn't like the one at SRD and now this. And there have probably been others. Sometimes people don't like change. Why doesn't everyone wait and give the guy at least one year before they start the "shuffle". And what is the teachers' solution for the terribly low scores, I wonder..... Maybe all this shuffling isn't helping. Maybe the teachers also do their part in creating an atmosphere that is non productive. I have no real side in this issue but I'm assuming there are two sides to every story and they should both be heard by open minds. The kids are the most important thing. This can't be good for them. I'm just sayin'...
Randy W May 17, 2012 at 03:48 AM
Ann, (part 1of 3) I agree with you that, change must be made in an orderly manner,and that gossiping with parents and children is in poor taste. Although, I question how exaggerated the latter is. I mean kids are very intuitive and some students probably picked up on the tension in the school. This does not mean that it's the faculty and parents who created this awkward environment. According to some of the teachers at WTB, Mr. Verducci, would question students about what their teachers were doing in their classrooms. This practice undermines the teachers authority and shifts the balance of power.(just one of his unprofessional tactics) Although, I'm not a teacher at WTB, Frank Verducci, was the V.P. at my school last year. I might not have first hand information about the specifics at WTB, but I can tell you, he is all of the things, that the teachers at WTB are accusing him of. .
Randy W May 17, 2012 at 04:01 AM
part 2 of 3) Moreover, I can testify that he is someone who is not fit to run a school. As you know, being a principal is a huge responsibility. A role that requires solid leadership skills, respect (that means, for his teachers, staff, custodians, parents, guardians and his pupils), impeccable interpersonal skills, trust, compassion, flexiblity etc., traits that he did not possess. I was not surprised when I learned about this article because he was the most incompetent superior I've ever worked with in my twenty something years in education. Like the teachers at WTB, many of us, welcomed him when he arrived at our school, and looked forward to working with him. Just weeks after his arrival, Frank Verducci's true colors began to show. He was hostile, indifferent,and went out of his way to show us who was in charge. He was especially intimidating and at times belligerent to his female subordinates
Randy W May 17, 2012 at 04:11 AM
3) Unfortunately, the work enviroment became very tense due to his poor interpersonal skills. In addition, he was not liked by his peers, faculty, support staff,students and parents. He had no idea about how to be a leader, his philosophy was to divide and conquer. Moreover, he had no idea of how to deal with students and most importantly, he had very little knowledge about teaching and pedagogy. A principal must be a TEACHER first. How do we expect to be evaluated as teachers by someone who does not have the wherewithal to do so? Honestly, I don't think he was a classroom teacher long enough, to qualify him as a principal. What I find disconcerting, is he had the charge of evaluating teachers. How can you evaluate teachers accurately and fairly when you don't have the appropriate qualifications?? I think that's what's happening at WTB. As far as the BOE" having access to all the facts and information needed", I don't need to see or hear their understanding of the facts, I know first hand what type of inept leader, Frank Verducci is. You also said," the BOE expressed confidence in the principal,,,,that might very well be. It doesn't mean the BOE is right. And the
Randy W May 17, 2012 at 04:15 AM
4. Board of Education's approval of FV doesn't mean he is not guilty of what he is being accused of or that he is the right leader for this school or any other school for that matter. I think the BOE, doesn't want to terminate him because they don't want to disrupt continuity at WTB
Randy W May 17, 2012 at 04:17 AM
5)..... Finally, the real truth will eventually surface. I hate to be the one, who said, "I told you so"......And in the end, I hope the students at WTB recieve the quality education they deserve. Good Luck to all at WTB School!!! I'm in your corner!!
Ann May 17, 2012 at 10:36 AM
Very interesting, Randy. Thanks for spending time with your comments above. (Although I'm not sure that questioning students about what goes on in the classroom is so terrible. That is an acceptable part of the process to me,..depending on how it's done, of course).BTW I don't think the teachers were happy with the previous principal either. Nor were they happy with the previous principal in one of the other schools in town. It goes with the territory and the reality usually lies somewhere in between. But, as you say, we all wish them luck because our scores have been low & something must be done about that. Principals AND teachers have responsibility in that area. For now, I think we need to sit back and watch and learn and keep open minds, because we've pretty well exhausted this topic on our limited information.
eva May 17, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Ann, I need to ask if you have children in the WTB or are you basing your responses on some other connection? I do have 2 children in the school and need to first say that I, for one, am NOT raising victims, and encourage my children to speak up when they perceive unfairness. They have never experienced teachers gossiping about the principal, yet the BOE encouraged the grievances to be continues in the parking lot!! The teachers are very passionate about their position which should tell you something right there, they never stood up against the other past principals. Perhaps the BOE is not doing such a great job with the hiring and recruiting process? Randy W has past experience with Verducci and has quite a laundry list of warnings. Any parent CAN feel the tension and see a difference at the school, and the unprofessional behavior is from the principal!
Ann May 17, 2012 at 03:53 PM
no, Eva--but I have numerous connections with friends in all of the schools and, while I've heard complaints over the years about ALL of the school principals and have trouble coming up with the name of even one principal that has been universally liked, I think it behooves us to keep our focus on why the scores are so low and what the teachers' plan is to fix it. Since they haven't come up with a successful plan yet, perhaps they need to give a principal a chance?....perhaps a little more than 6 months before they reject him/her. As this battle becomes more and more petty, let's keep the kids' college ambitions in mind. Scores are paramount. Just food for thought. Have a good day.
Randy W May 18, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Scott, I totally agree with you. He does not have basic personal skills, nevermind, leadership skills. Some may even say its Asperger's....he certainly has some of the symptoms/behaviors....(not to suggest that people with Asperger's shouldn't hold leadership positions) but, Frank Verducci is not one of them. I'm not saying this to be mean, but a few people with post graduate degrees in Psych.and experts in the area of Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) who knew him thought so. BBOE needs to fire him before he gets TENURE!
eva May 18, 2012 at 12:25 PM
When a person in power comes in from the get-go and offers no leadership, no respect, and no "successful plan" of his own, uses intimidation as motivation for staff, and avoids all communication with parents as often as possible, it behooves us to give more time to cost Bloomingdale tax payers even more money. Information is power, perhaps you need to spend more time listening to the grievances of many. And the "parent with an axe to grind" as you mentioned earlier, is only one of MANY! Ask the BOE how many $s Verducci cost us in his egregious acts against her disabled child, and for what? In the end there are federal laws we all must abide by, except Verducci thinks he doesn't have to. Any parent would be outraged if they talk half a minute to open their eyes!
Lindsay May 18, 2012 at 07:03 PM
I guess it pays to have connections from daddy...
Lindsay May 18, 2012 at 07:05 PM
I'm wondering when someone will get smart and check into his background, qualifications, and work experience???
Randy W May 18, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Lindsay, I totally agree! According to one of the other articles about this matter, said, Verducci was hired in July of last year at an annual salary of $111,000. He had worked in the insurance industry for 10 years before earning his education credentials".Lindsay, I would like to see what "EDUCATION CREDENTIALS" he claims to have. Also, I'm not 100% certain, how long one has to teach, before, one can become a principal in N.J. From my experience, I don't think he has the pedagogical knowledge needed to make a significant difference in the education of the students at WTB School. The fact that he is in charge of evaluating teachers is very disquieting. I would like to know who is evaluating, F. Verducci?
Scondo May 18, 2012 at 11:18 PM
There is no specific requirement for length of teacher. A principal has to be licensed , a holder of the license has met the educational requirements. Never ceases to amaze me at how little people understand about how things work and in the information era how they fail to look into things before they spout off on Internet forums
Randy W May 20, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Thank you for your informative advice. I'll be sure to have my fact checker, research the facts next time. Nonetheless, I still stand behind what I have said, 100%
Lisa Fusaro May 27, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Ann - I have been teaching for 39 years under many different administrators. Each one of them treated "us" with respect In turn, we respected our superior. If this mutual respect wasn't received then the principal would be OUT which has been done many times in several other schools in my district. As far as test scores go - "Teachers Teach." They want the best for their students and work their tails off doing so. Of course, test scores and the ability to know how to teach students go hand in hand however numerous other factors have come in to play over the years. Everyone needs to participate - the BOE, the Superintendent, administrators, teachers, parents, and students. I stand behind the teachers in the Walter T Bergen School in Bloomingdale - 100%. What I don't understand is why is there so much cover-up when the facts are so obvious? I'm sure you know the idiom " Fool me once, shame on you. You fool me twice. shame on me." The BOE and Interim Superintendent should heed this advice. Rather than be shamed, do something about it. Rather than "throw the teachers to the wolves" "THROW THE BUM OUT!"
Dossy Shiobara July 17, 2012 at 12:27 PM
> "Whatever the issues may be, handle them professionally with the Board of Ed - not publically and certainly not in the classroom. If parents are concerned or interested, they should be attending the Board of Ed meetings and addressing their concerns accordingly." From the Patch article we're discussing, it sounds like they tried to, and were squelched. What's your suggestion, now?

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