The only thing on the Board of Education meeting’s agenda may have been the appointment of the new superintendent – but that didn’t stop residents from inquiring about the demotion of the Mt. Hebron assistant principal.
A week ago, Assistant Principal Samantha Morra, was demoted from her position where she earned $115,000 a year after she was accused of illegally enrolling her children in Montclair schools while residing in neighboring Little Falls.
"I am outraged that which appears to be theft and I am outraged that which appears to be conduct unbecoming," said Montclair Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renee Baskerville.
Morra was when it was revealed by an investigation she was sending her children to Montclair schools using a Montclair mailing address that is actually part of the Little Falls school district and paying taxes to Little Falls.
“Here we are talking about someone in a middle school where it is definitely the most impressionable age group for our children. This is a critical time in what actions take place," Baskerville said. "I think whatever the maximum consequences are under the law, we should uphold those maximum penalties."
Morra was responsible as an administrator to not allow students from other districts to attend Montclair schools, Baskerville said. “That compounds this matter in my mind."
Board President Robin Kulwin said it’s not simple because as a teacher she is part of a union and has rights, "It's very important to us to do this properly," Kulwin said. “I don't want to spend a lot of time unwinding things because we were in a hurry. So we've done this the way we’re supposed to."
Kulwin continued saying Morra requested the Aug. 6 meeting be a public hearing instead in executive session, which is usually would be in, so the public was informed about the issue.
"Nothing has been swept under the rug is being swept under a rug or will be swept under a rug," said Kulwin. "We have not operated that way on any level and I assure you we will not."
Morra told board members previously that the former superintendent had given her verbal authorization to send her children to Montclair schools starting three years ago, which he denied.
The board only had four members present when the decision for a demotion was made as a recommendation from the interim superintendent. Any another action was not discussed because the board felt all seven members should be present said Kulwin.
Kulwin also said termination of Morra was brought up in that meeting, instead of a demotion, the board's attorney advised that the board would not win.
Morra held an $115,000-a-year assistant principal position for two years but she'll a her tenured teaching job in the district.