Stephanie Johnson Tuckerton 0

Remove Dr. Melissa A McCooley as Shared Superintendent

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Dear Esteemed LEH and Pinelands School Board Members,

We, the undersigned Parents of children who are presently attending and/or have attended any Little Egg Harbor Schools (Robert C. Wood Early Childhood Center, George J. Mitchell and Frog Pond Elementary Schools); Parents of children who are presently attending and/or have attended Pinelands School (Pinelands Junior High School, Pinelands Regional High School), in addition to Little Egg Harbor Township, Tuckerton, and New Gretna/Bass River residents, employees former and present, and students have composed this letter to express our dissatisfaction with the current Shared Superintendent, Dr. Melissa A. McCooley.

This letter is an expression of our “Vote of No Confidence” in Dr. McCooley and her ability to run the above-mentioned schools effectively, efficiently and in the best interest of the students.

We understand the severity of this decision and did not arrive at it hastily. We feel we have given Dr. McCooley ample time to prove herself and we are completely displeased with her leadership and the path of failure she has led our students down. We are tired of the excuses.

Throughout the past few years, we have had concerns regarding Dr. McCooley’s leadership; specifically regarding trust with information presented to parents, trust with safety practices and safety of staff, students and their families during the pandemic, confidentiality of student information, lack of collaboration between all LEH Schools and Pinelands Schools, her administrative decision making with regards to grading, curriculum selection and application, her nepotistic hiring practices, her lack of respect towards parents and staff, and the non-transparent and vague communication relayed to parents and our communities.

Through intimidation and retaliation tactics, Dr. McCooley has acted unethically and has violated many labor laws and federal rules regarding Family Medical Leave Act. We feel she has been inconsistent in application of rules and disciplinary procedures with regards to her staff. Not to mention the allegations of misconduct and abuse of power against her, and her spouse’s aggressive and inappropriate behavior on social media towards parents in the district.

We feel Dr. McCooley has failed to abide by Little Egg Harbor School and Pineland's District Mission Statements.

In 2019, Pinelands graduation rate was below NJ State level and the number of bullying, violence and illegal substance issues that have been reported have risen. There is zero accountability for the administration’s failures in their curriculum and zero motivation for students to strive for excellence; where the lowest grade possible is a 55%. Where our prior Assistant Superintendent stated they 'dumbed down' the curriculum during hybrid learning at a Strategic Planning Meeting.

Dr. McCooley has failed our children on every level of these mission statements and should have never been offered a contract renewal/offer of employment for another 4 years. We feel this will be detrimental to our students, our teachers/staff and to the future progress of our towns.

She has not strived for a high level of standards for student learning and testing, but rather has created a toxic environment for students, parents and staff. Our school districts (excluding Robert C. Wood) have continually scored inconsistently and/or below State averages based on NJ School Performance Rating Scores, we are plagued by poor attendance with no parental accountability, and poor academic success among Special Education and disadvantaged students. Without the recognition of mistakes, accountability or the willingness to listen to parents or teachers, there is no hope for improvement for our children and their education.

A school cannot be successful with a one-way avenue of communication. Even when input is sought, there is a failure to follow through or a total disregard for the ideas of many; when communication occurs, it is too often delayed and incomplete. There is an overall feeling from parents that we are not valued, we are brushed aside and met with opposition and condescension when we try to take an active role in our children’s education.

We need a different, more solid leadership. We need this NOW.

For these reasons stated, we the undersigned have “No Confidence” in Dr. McCooley and her administration. We implore each respective Board, to end Dr. McCooley’s employment contract based on inefficiency and unbecoming behavior as stated in her contract per Section 18A:17-24.4 Grounds of Dismissal of Shared Superintendent. As elected officials, we hope you hear our frustration as parents, as residents and as tax payers and hope you do what is right for the children of Little Egg Harbor, Tuckerton, and New Gretna/Bass River.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Stephanie C Johnson

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