Maplewood Schools / Kids South Orange

Reinstate Principal Aaron July 10 Rally Canceled After Meeting With Superintendent

Updated July 11, 2018 with a synopsis of the meeting on July 9 with SOMSD Interim Superintendent Dr. Thomas Ficarra, Board of Education President Elizabeth Baker and members of the Emergency Committee to Reinstate Elizabeth Aaron.

A rally planned for the morning of July 10 outside the Administration Building of the South Orange-Maplewood School District to protest the reassignment of Columbia High School Principal Elizabeth Aaron was canceled late Monday night, July 9.

The surprise move came after a late afternoon meeting on Monday (see synopsis from the committee attached) that included members of the Emergency Committee to Reinstate Principal Aaron, Interim Superintendent Dr. Thomas Ficarra and Board of Education President Elizabeth Baker. Although Elizabeth Aaron was not present at the meeting, committee spokesperson Eric Shorter reported to Village Green that he spoke directly with Aaron via mobile phone immediately after the meeting at which time Aaron assured Shorter that she did not want the planned July 10 rally to take place.

The leadership of the Reinstate Elizabeth Aaron committee then posted a notice (see below) on its Facebook group canceling the Tuesday rally and provoking reactions from members — some of whom rejected the statement — including comments about how to move forward as a committee to reinstate Aaron as she appeared to be cooperating with district leadership in her new role as Principal on Special Assignment.

In an email sent at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 30, South Orange-Maplewood Interim Supt. Dr. Thomas Ficarra announced that Aaron would be reassigned, joining the Central Office Team as a Principal on Special Assignment, and that current Director of Planning and Assessment Dr. Kalisha Morgan would replace her as interim CHS principal, effective July 2.

Aaron’s reassignment has stirred debate amongst supporters and detractors. The Community Coalition on Race has called for the school district to provide “context surrounding the recently announced personnel moves” including Aaron’s reassignment — expressing concern that “the manner in which recent significant personnel changes were announced to the community may have a destabilizing affect on a community that is still coming to terms with the facilities plan, changes in grade structures, and changes in what buildings will serve whom.”

At the July 10 meeting with leaders of the Emergency Committee, Ficarra explained that “Aaron will focus her energy as the architect of our school redistricting and capital improvement plans – two crucial, large-scale initiatives our District will be focusing on for the next few years.”

On Tuesday morning, a group of about 22 members of the Emergency Committee to Reinstate Elizabeth Aaron met across the street from the Administration Building in lieu of the rally. There was “venting” (a characterization of the conversation by group member Eddy Bikales) and discussion about next steps for the group.

Members of the Emergency Committee to Reinstate Elizabeth Aaron meeting outside the SOMSD Administration Building on July 10, 2018.

Village Green will update this story as more information becomes available. Read the following statement from the Emergency Committee to Reinstate Principal Aaron here:

July 9, 2018 – 11:25 PM

STATEMENT FROM EMERGENCY COMMITTEE TO
REINSTATE PRINCIPAL AARON

** TUESDAY RALLY IS CANCELLED **

We created a movement. We leveraged our collective 1,600 voices and forced the District leadership to sit with us today and discuss the poorly communicated, weekend announcement that CHS Principal Elizabeth Aaron was being reassigned.

Our meeting was a first step in both accountability and transparency as Dr. Ficarra revealed Principal Aaron will focus her energy as the architect of our school redistricting and capital improvement plans – two crucial, large-scale initiatives our District will be focusing on for the next few years.

Additionally, we learned Principal Aaron wants our group to focus on larger issues related to the District and our elected BOE members. As a proud 20-year member of our community, she sees the bigger picture and is aware of the work that lies ahead of her and eager to get started.

In just seven days, our group of passionate and focused community members created a movement that could not be ignored by leaders in our District. We must continue to make ourselves heard.

Please join us at the next BOE meeting on July 16th at 7:30pm at 525 Academy Street and share your support for Principal Aaron, your suggestions for better collaboration, and your frustrations about the process and decisions of the last few weeks.

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