Superintendent of Schools Under Review

School officials tight-lipped on results of evaluation

West Orange school board officials met in a closed session Thursday night for a yearly evaluation of Superintendent of Schools Anthony Cavanna.

Though they would not comment publicly on the outcome of the meeting, community residents feared the board might move to terminate Cavanna. 

Board of education members deferred comment to board president Laura Lab who would not comment on personnel issues. She said, though, that the meeting was posted. 

In an email sent around Thursday and obtained by Patch, West Orange resident Cynthia Cumming warned of the possible termination of the superintendent. She wrote,

"It has come to my attention that certain members of the school board, constituting a majority, have called a closed session meeting tonight in an effort to dismiss Dr. Cavanna.

In my opinion, this would be a disastrous move for the children of this district and the township as a whole, and am outraged that this would occur in planned closed meetings without the input or voice of the voting public." 

While school board attorney Steven Christiano would not comment specifically on the outcome of the meeting, he outlined the formal removal process. 

"You can't just dismiss somebody," he said. "There has to be cause to do that."

Christiano said board members would have to agree to certify tenure charges against a superintendent. Once the charges were certified and approved in a majority vote by the board, the superintendent would appear in a hearing before an administrative law judge. The decision would then be reviewed by the commissioner of education, he said. 

He said, as part of the process, the superintendent would be suspended for 120 days without pay once tenure charges are filed and an interim superintendent would be appointed by the board until the issue is resolved.

Christiano said causes for dismissal can include "unbecoming conduct, incapacity, incompetence and inefficiency." 

Cavanna was unanimously appointed by the board in 2009. He is under a four year contract set to expire June 30 of 2013. His salary is set around $220,000. 

Before his tenure as West Orange superintendent, Cavanna was a teacher, assistant principal, principal and deputy superintendent of schools in New York City. He has also held posts as a superintendent in New York and New Jersey. 

Cavanna could not be reached for comment.  

sternie July 28, 2011 at 03:19 PM
Let's all just calm down and take a deep breath. There. It's gorgeous outside. Our town is in bloom. It's a wonderful place for those of us who call it home. We welcome others to it if they would like. Peace.
Tom July 31, 2011 at 05:06 AM
Ken July 31, 2011 at 02:14 PM
Can someone (on either side, preferably on both) give some details about what Cavanna has or has not done? I've got a kid starting 4th grade and another starting kindergarten, and the only difference I've noticed between administrations is the name on the letters. Makes me wonder if they couldn't just fire this guy, leave the position vacant, and let the schools run themselves.
MP August 01, 2011 at 02:15 PM
Sternie - If i can sell my house without a loss, I will leave tomorrow. The High School is going down. If not for the AP courses, it will be way down in rating. Edison Six never improved. The principal of that school should me dismisseed before Cavanna. It was a mistake to create Edison 6. They only dragged down the high performing kids. Teacher absenteeism is on the rise. Substitutes are costing money and performance. Oh yes, the taxes are high to support poor performance.
Raymond Helfrich September 07, 2011 at 02:47 PM
So? What happened? What's happening?


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