Maplewood Schools / Kids South Orange

UPDATED: Ramos to Leave South Orange-Maplewood School District

This article has been updated with an email from Dr. Ramos to SOMSD staff, and also a statement from BOE President Elizabeth Baker:

Two years after joining the South Orange-Maplewood School District and three years before the end of his contract, Superintendent Dr. John Ramos will be leaving the district.

Rumors began circulating weeks ago about Ramos’s potential departure, the reasons for which are not yet known. South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education President Elizabeth Baker said that the Board will be issuing a release shortly.

Ramos’s contract, signed in April 2015, runs through June of 2020, and can be terminated at any time by mutual agreement, by Ramos with 90 days notice, or by notification in writing by the Board on or before Dec. 31, 2019.

Ramos sent the following email to staff and administrators on Monday morning:

Dear Colleagues,

I have tendered my resignation to the Board of Education, and will be retiring from service in New Jersey.  As a family man, it has been particularly difficult to be out my home for what is now nearly 5 years.  That reality can take its toll…and has.  It is time to get back home.

I thank you for your ongoing support and commitment.  We have good work to celebrate; I am proud of what we have accomplished in our two years together.  Our accomplishments have included the development of an organically developed district blueprint (Strategic Plan) to guide work intended to meet the present and future needs of our children and young adults.  Moreover, deliverables have included the development and passage of an aggressive Access and Equity policy with corresponding regulations and activities.

This work has included giving attention to mindset, cultural competency, social compacts, improved service delivery, significant recruitment and hiring, communications technology and broad community engagement.  For example, our Education Summit in November 2015 included 1,500 participants representing all stakeholders, including taxpayers with no children in the system.  Also, we have launched the important efforts of website redesign as well as the building utilization/redistricting study.  In addition, the encroaching fiscal cliff has required other innovative work around the generation of both efficiencies and focused spending, through zero-based budgeting, as well as new revenue.

While there will always be much to do, we have established a critical foundation and collaboratively built architecture for the work to build upon.  I am confident that you will continue to pursue this district’s mission to educate ALL children so that they are prepared for a world we have yet to imagine.

Thank you for extending to me the honor to serve the SOMSD.  I am grateful to you and all the people of these two cooperating towns.  I am grateful, too, to the many outstanding professionals with whom I had the chance to work and to the students who we serve each day.

You are on the verge of realizing a model worthy of replication.  I wish you every good fortune in that journey.


John J. Ramos, Sr., Ed.D.

Here is a statement from BOE President Elizabeth Baker:

From the Board:

On behalf of the Board of Education, I thank Dr. Ramos for his service to our school district since August 2015. We greatly appreciate Dr. Ramos’ leadership in the adoption of the Access and Equity policy, his commitment to dialogue and restorative practices, and the zero-based budgeting process that has already helped align spending with student needs. We wish Dr. Ramos a wonderful retirement and much deserved time with his family.

The Board will work with Dr. Ramos to ensure a smooth transition for our school district, and we are moving expeditiously to appoint an interim superintendent who can lead our school community through the next phase of work. We expect that an interim superintendent will be appointed in early June to ensure a seamless hand off from Dr. Ramos and a productive summer in preparation for the 2017-2018 school year.

With an interim superintendent in place, we will then be able to conduct a robust and transparent search for a permanent superintendent. Community feedback and input from stakeholders will be central to the search process.

I know that members of our community understandably will have questions regarding the appointment of an interim and the search for a permanent superintendent. We will share information as soon as we are able.

Please join me in wishing Dr. Ramos well in this next chapter of his life.  We look forward to working with district staff, families, and the community during this time of transition and to remain focused on our shared commitment to our students.

Elizabeth Baker, President
South Orange Maplewood Board of Education

Ramos came to the district a time when hiring permanent and interim superintendents in New Jersey was difficult due to the salary cap instituted by the Christie administration. During his time at the helm of the South Orange-Maplewood District, Ramos steered the Board of Education through the adoption of an Access & Equity policy and an Academic Placement policy. Ramos also led the charge on a Strategic Plan which is still in process. The district saw numerous administrators leave after Ramos’s first year, some for retirement and others for jobs in new districts; Ramos has subsequently presided over many new administrative hires in the district. Recently, the district has grappled with racial incidents within the schools, some of which have received international press attention.

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