As Assistant Principal at Mount Hebron is Demoted, Ethical Questions are Raised

Will "one of their own" be treated better than other parents who sneak their kids into the school system from out of town?

Montclair Public Schools
Former (as of last night) Assistant Principal Samantha Morra.

Mount Hebron Assistant Principal Samantha Morra has been removed from her position at the middle school, after the board of education voted that her enrollment of her own children, residents of Little Falls, in the Montclair school system is a direct violation of both school and township requirements.

Interim Montclair superintendent Dr. Clarence Hoover said Morra should be demoted.

Montclair required proof of residency for every child enrolled in the school system.

However, though Morra does live in Little Falls, and not Montclair, she told the board of education members that she had permission to send her children to Montclair public schools by recently departed Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Alvarez.

According to Morra, Alvarez knew her family lives in Little Falls, right over the border from Montclair. In direct denial to this statement, Montclair school district attorney Derlys Gutierrez said he had spoken to Alvarez and was told that he had never given the go-ahead to Morra to send her kids to the Montclair schools.

It all boils down to the same old reality - that no one can escape taxes.

Morra pays taxes in Little Falls, which makes her a Little Falls resident.

The BOE sent an email to parents in the Mount Hebron middle school:

"Interim Principal, Mrs. Trigg-Scales, has settled in rapidly and has been working with staff on the schedule and the curricula for new courses. As a result of tonight’s action by the Board of Education, a new assistant principal will be selected and will be in place for the start of the school year. The interview process for a permanent principal is progressing. We hope to have this position filled in the fall."

Now, with this new demotion, the ethical questions as to whether or not this educator should reimburse Montclair for the cost of sending her children - free - to Montclair schools for 3 years should be reimbursed.

And, with the strict policy of the district to allow only Montclair residents into the schools, letting an Assistant Principal get away with this would appear to be unethical.

As the "residency hotline" in town clearly states:

"Keeping down costs and class sizes requires that the district maintains year-round vigilance of its student population. Only students who live in Montclair full-time, with a parent or guardian who assumes full financial support for them, are legally eligible to attend the schools."

At the high school, the registration notice state:

"Parents/Guardians will be required to submit residency verification documents in accordance with the registration process of the Montclair Public Schools.

This process is being enacted under the district policy P-5118 in an effort to update, verify, and document the residency of all students moving from grade eight into grade nine at Montclair High School."

Lastly, here is the official notification about residency from the Montclair website:

"Please be reminded that only students of families residing in Montclair are eligible to attend the Montclair Public Schools. The Montclair School District is not a “district of choice” under the New Jersey State Legislative bill (A-355)."

Updates to follow.


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