In the midst of a scandal, the Secaucus Board of Education voted to reassign each of the town’s principals to new schools.
At Thursday evening’s meeting at Huber Street School, the Board decided to assign Dr. Bob Berckes to Clarendon School from Secaucus High School by a vote of 5-3-1. Former Clarendon Principal Steven Viggiani will take over at Secaucus High School and former Secaucus Middle School Principal Robert Valente will move to Huber Street School.
The transfers come as the school system is still dealing with the fallout from Berckes’ controversial suspension. Berckes has accused Superintendent Jennifer Montesano of trying to ruin his reputation and has filed a claim to sue the school district for $5 million.
Board members Louis Giele, Sharon Dellafave, and Kathleen McFarlane voted no to the transfers and Lance Bartletta abstained. Ruby Pantoliano voted yes but subsequently spoke critically of the decision, claiming she only voted yes because the superintendent and the principals had already agreed to the arrangement.
Mayor Michael Gonnelli told The Journal he did not know of the transfers in advance and his calls were not returned.
Berckes was suspended in April along with Assistant Principal Jeffrey Case, who later resigned, after they disposed of a pocket knife and a small amount of marijuana that was found on a student. According to Berckes, Montesano was notified of the disposal before it happened and only objected when the story became public.