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Secaucus Superintendent’s Unexpected Leave of Absence

Secaucus News

Erick Alfonso, the superintendent of the Secaucus school district, has been placed on paid leave without a public explanation.

This decision reflects ongoing leadership instability, marking the sixth superintendent change in seven years.

Key Takeaways
  • Erick Alfonso, superintendent of the Secaucus school district, was placed on paid leave with an annual salary of $180,000.
  • The district faces monumental organizational changes, such as redistricting and PreK expansion.
  • This incident marks the sixth change in superintendent in just seven years, drawing criticism from Mayor Gonnelli.

Secaucus School District Superintendent Suspended

In a recent turn of events, the superintendent of the Secaucus school district, Erick Alfonso, has been placed on paid leave.

This decision came to light during the monthly meeting of the elected Board of Education members. Despite the lack of a public explanation for the suspension, Alfonso’s annual salary of $180,000 will continue to be paid during his leave, which has already caused criticism.

Board of Education’s Decision on Suspension

All elected Board of Education members present at their recent meeting made the unanimous decision to suspend Superintendent Erick Alfonso.

They only disclosed that an unnamed employee was under investigation, leading to the suspension with pay. This decision was announced at the very end of their meeting, leaving many details undisclosed.

Communication with Parents and Privacy Concerns

As of midday Friday following the meeting, the school district had not issued any formal communication to parents about Alfonso’s leave.

BOE president Kelli D’Addetta emphasized the importance of respecting employee privacy rights and declined to provide further comments, stating, “The superintendent is currently on a leave of absence. As with all personnel matters, we must respect the privacy rights held by our employees and therefore I will not be making any further comment. During the superintendent’s absence, the Director of Curriculum is available to respond to any issues or concerns that arise in the district.”

Mayor Gonnelli & Others React to School Board’s Decision

Mayor Mike Gonnelli expressed his disappointment with the Board of Education’s decision, highlighting the frequent changes in superintendents Secaucus has experienced.

This is the sixth superintendent Secaucus has had in the past seven years, And some of them we actually had to pay them when they leave. That means taxpayer dollars. This is very upsetting to me.” Gonnelli remarked, pointing out the financial implications for the taxpayers.

Previous Challenges with School District Leadership

The school district has faced similar situations in the past, including the controversial departure of Robert Berckes, the former Secaucus High School principal, who was paid his $124,000 salary for a year without working.

Alfonso’s predecessor, Jennifer Montesano, also left the position under undisclosed circumstances. Mayor Gonnelli criticized the Board’s handling of these transitions, calling it embarrassing for the town.

What’s Next for the Secaucus School District?

Despite the current leadership absence, significant projects such as redistricting, PreK expansion, and potential infrastructure developments at Clarendon Elementary continue.

The direction and execution of these initiatives remain critical to the district’s future success and the educational experience of its students.

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Eleanor Vega is a distinguished education journalist with over 15 years of experience, holding a Master’s Degree in Education Policy from Columbia University. Her work focuses on educational reform, classroom technology, and equity, offering actionable insights to educators, policymakers, and the community. Eleanor's articles for the Hudson Reporter bridge education policy with real-world impacts, translating complex topics into engaging narratives. Renowned for her compelling storytelling, Eleanor is a valued educational voice, inspiring change and understanding through her reports.