Mt. Hebron Staff Outraged by Removal of Principal

They say they were horrified to learn of the news via the media and hearsay.


The following letter was distributed to Mount Hebron families on Saturday morning by the Mount Hebron staff in reaction to an announcement on Thursday night that Principal Guy Whitlock would be transferred to the district's Central Office this summer. The letter came from science teacher Nino LaStella and was simply signed "Mount Hebron Middle School Staff." LaStella said the letter was written after Mount Hebron staff held a meeting Friday afternoon.

Dear Dr. Frank Alvarez, Dr. James Patterson, Members of Montclair School Board of Education, Mt. Hebron PTA Co-Presidents Ms Melissa Bigelow, Ms Liza Cohn, Ms Sue Obidditch and Members of the PTA,

The Mount Hebron Middle Schoo Staff wish to express our outrage at the removal of Principal Guy Whitlock. We were not apprised beforehand, nor given the opportunity to weigh in on this matter.

Furthermore, it is horrifying to learn of this change through several news media sources and, sadly, hearsay. We need to effectively communicate about the future of our school amongst the staff, with the parents, students, and the community at large. Clearly we are unable to do so at this time.
Given the emergent crisis, which impacts the entire Mount Hebron community, it is imperative that a meeting with the Mount Hebron community be scheduled on Tuesday, May 22nd and our suggested time is 7 p.m.

In the spirit of transparency and accountability, we request two representatives from the Montclair Board of Education, the members of the Mount Hebron PTA, the PTA Council, and Dr. Alvarez attend this meeting.


The Mount Hebron Middle School Staff

Maxish May 19, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Looks like the teachers union is trying to take care of one of their own. From what I'm told, (admittedly, I'm not in the school and it is second hand knowledge) Whitlock had a difficult time controlling his staff. Parents were upset at him and his VP.
frank rubacky May 19, 2012 at 02:09 PM
I'm fasicinated about this letter, both the 'source' and the 'recipients', and what it unintentionally shows about the management of individual schools in Montclair. Who is running things? It is interesting that the PTA caused such a stir last month with the elections and this month they are orchestrating a revolt with the teachers. Summer vacation can't come fast enough.
Shelley Emling (Editor) May 19, 2012 at 02:19 PM
The letter was sent out by one of the teachers at the school following a meeting of the staff after school on Friday.
frank rubacky May 19, 2012 at 02:36 PM
THE CLIFF NOTE VERSION: Staff wish to express our outrage... We were not apprised beforehand, nor given the opportunity to weigh in...it is horrifying to learn of this change ... We need to effectively communicate... Clearly we are unable to do so at this time.... Given the emergent crisis....it is imperative that a meeting be scheduled on Tuesday.... In the spirit of transparency and accountability
Montclair's Own May 19, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I love the conspiracy theorists who automatically assume the union is behind this. Principals have their own representation outside of the teachers union. More than anything what this has shown is decision making in a vacuum without consultation or even informing the professionals who work in the schools. There is no accountability for those pulling strings. Good luck getting a straight, legitimate answer.
CP3O May 19, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Mr. Whitlock....what a disappointment. Where is your loyality to your fellow staff members, students and parents?
frank rubacky May 19, 2012 at 02:51 PM
MO, They made a personnel decision, Get over it. They don't have to explain to he world. Management is clearly an issue in this school and always has been. Mr Whitlock is given a shot it didn't work out. They made a place for him in CO. There is absolutely no way the Principals representation is making an issue of this! They would have to be 'horrifyingly' crazy. I think you already know this.
Mary Emanuelli May 19, 2012 at 04:37 PM
I am curious as to what Maxish's "source" is. What parents? "Control" well educated professional adults? Be careful of 2nd hand sources, Do any of us really believe that one person's opinion about what another person thinks was said is something that should be repeated to the detriment of not only Mr. Whitlock's reputation but that of the staff of Mt. Hebron and the parents of Mt. Hebron students?. But if anyone would like to go about conitnuing to quote second hand sources, make sure you quote me too. Mr. Whitlock is an outstanding principal who communicates with parents his hopes and dreams for the school and the students. The changes and energy he has brought about in 2 short years is nothing short of miraculous. My 9th grader commented when she heard this news that Mt. Hebron became a brighter, happier place when Mt. Whiltock started. She hopes that it can stay that way without him.
BenT May 19, 2012 at 06:49 PM
The letter raises some interesting questions....why copy the PTA? Were they behind this? What open position will Whitlock fill at the BOE? Lastly....will the patch cover the meeting at my this week?
Shelley Emling (Editor) May 19, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Patch will be there.
MH parent May 19, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Shelly, do you have any association with MH? If so, I hope whoever covers the meeting will be a neutral party
MH parent May 19, 2012 at 08:11 PM
What were Whitlock's qualifications and experience as an ADMINISTRATOR in the first place?
Dan May 20, 2012 at 02:00 PM
The staff has no right to expect to be consulted in an administrative move. Let the board fulfill it's responsibility. You have zero right to input, just like the rest of us in the real world. Or quit, there are more than a few eager unemployed who would be happy to have your job.
MJ May 20, 2012 at 03:31 PM
My daughter has had two solid years under Mr. Whitlock's leadership. If the staff support him, and they are a large part of the school community, who is at the root of the dissatisfaction? If the PTA is behind this, who is so well connected?
megan fox May 20, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Some staff members may have been horrified but many students, parents and taxpayers were pleased. Schools exist for the benefit of students, and I applaud the the board of ed for having the chutzpah to do what needed to be done in the best interest of the kids.
JohnL98 May 21, 2012 at 12:56 PM
All good points....but here is a good question. June is right around the corner...who will be replacing GW? Internal? Out of district? It usually takes 60 days to find a principal and then another 60 days for him/her to get out of their existing contract....That takes us into the fall. Patch? Have your calls to the BOE been returned?
Laura Marchese May 21, 2012 at 01:04 PM
I think the indignation is appropriate - The principal has been transferred and his team was not notified. Why didn't he notify them him self? Change of a principal absolutely has consequences for staff and students. Staff should be informed so that they can pass information to parents and students. When you are responsible for children you need to know what is going on. Not in excruciating detail, but at least 'what is the plan'. I think it is not only professional courtesy, but part of the district's responsibility.
Kyle Martinowich May 21, 2012 at 02:24 PM
How does a teacher get the Names, Address's, and contact information off all students/parents at Mt. Hebron? Do letters sent to Parents not need to be reviewed and signed off on by Management at the school or by someone at the BOE?
Brian Collins May 21, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Having two kids at Mt. Hebron, my wife and I were also shocked and disappointed that Mr. Whitlock was leaving so soon. We think he has done a great job the last two years. Who knows why he is leaving. How long are principals supposed to last? There certainly seems to be a revolving door at all the schools.
Laura Gardner May 21, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Laura, Mr. Whitlock barely got the word in due time to even tell his staff. No fault of his at all. He was up for tenure as a principal; I believe he has tenure already as a teacher. His tenure was denied and therefore he is outplaced. Guy was the best person for the job when interviewed. He continues to be the best person for the job!
Laura Gardner May 21, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Mount Hebron parents received a letter from Dr. Alvarez and a separate letter from Mr. Whitlock via email. We did not receive the letter from the Mr. LaStella -- everyone read it here on the Patch.
CP3O May 21, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Megan Fox....how are we the taxpayer benefitting from this transfer? We're still paying for his salary and now we need a new principal?
montclair steve May 21, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I am a teacher and would like to share the following about Mr. Whitlock. Guy Whitlock completed a two year full time graduate program, passed the licensing exams and was awarded two administrative credentials from the State of New Jersey: School Administrator and Principal. As Principal of Mt. Hebron he was charged with revitalizing the school, increasing 5th grade applications to Mt. Hebron Middle School, and changing the master schedule to increase the number of electives offered to students. Guy Whitlock has revitalized Mt. Hebron, it is a more exciting place to teach and to learn than it has been over the last 20 years; applications from fifth grade students have significantly increased over prior years; and the new master schedule is on schedule for implementation for September 2012, with or without Mr. Whitlock. In just two short years Mt. Hebron, now the University STEM Magnet has begun a wonderful transformation and every honest person who is a current Mt. Hebron stakeholder can confirm this. Guy Whitlock is a man of integrity who has been a tremendous asset and inspiration to Mt. Hebron students, staff, parents and community stakeholders. As civil servants, educators serve at the will of the Board of Education whether it is on the building level or at Central Office; they should not however, be tried by bloggers, who put down public figures for sport. Shame on you, for thinking this should be your role.
Laura Gardner May 21, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Well said. I think we can all detect a fervor growing so please everyone keep commenting because I don't think we should take this "lying down". This is a BOE decision that needs to be challenged!
Lynniefein May 21, 2012 at 09:53 PM
I have a 7th grader at Mt Hebron & wholeheartedly agree that Mr Whitlock has done an outstanding job in the short 2 years he has been there! We are very sad & disappointed to see him go!!
Shelley Emling (Editor) May 21, 2012 at 10:48 PM
The teachers just told me that the Tuesday meeting has been postponed due to "scheduling conflicts."


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