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Second Teacher Learns Board of Ed Decision

The Donaldson hearing for Steven Cohen was held Wednesday

South Orange Middle School teacher learned that he will not return to the district in September. He was notified on Saturday that the Board of Education chose to uphold the that was made in May by Principal Joseph Uglialoro.

Kathleen McCort, who also taught eighth grade Social Studies at SOMS, was similarly notified that she wouldn't be rehired. Her Donaldson hearing, held in June, saw the same result. 

Neither teacher was retained by the district. A replacement for Cohen was approved by vote at the Monday Board of Education meeting.  McCort's replacement comes from within the school, but from another discipline. That announcement was made in June.

Patch will update this story.

Luciana A. July 21, 2012 at 09:28 PM
This is a tragedy for South Orange Middle School. I firmly believe that Mr. Cohen was the best teacher to grace the halls of SOMS, and his absence will be clear in September. We can't say we didn't try, and I hope Mr. Cohen continues to remember how grateful and privileged his students feel to have known him.
Amy Cox-Martins July 21, 2012 at 11:15 PM
I believe the powers that be had reasons the public is not aware of. It is unfortunate though that a creative solution could not have been devised to whatever the problem was.
Dinah PoKempner July 22, 2012 at 12:50 AM
We are very disappointed by this decision, as we have two children who have benefitted immeasurably from Mr. Cohen's dedication and skill. We wish him well in his future career, in a district that appreciates his talents. And we hope that the administration and Board will devise a meaningful way to incorporate parent and student feedback into retention decisions.
Tom Morris July 22, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Unfortunately, this decision does not surprise me. I expect Mr. Cohan , even if he is able to obtain employment elsewhere, will leave the teaching profession within three years. Mr. Osbourne is a typical Superintendent and if parents should be very aware that he has higher priorities than their children. parents are the primary educators of their offspring. Never give up that responsibility or privilege to anyone that cannot be trusted, especially administrators.
Roberta Ruben Zweifler July 22, 2012 at 01:44 PM
I was told by someone who teaches School Administration at the Grad School leve, that if a teacher requested and was granted a "Donaldson Hearing," they were waiving their right to privacy about the matter. If that is the case, why was there not disclosure as to the reason why these two teachers were not rehired?
MusicalMe July 26, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I don't have children in the school district so I'm not very motivated but if the right to privacy is no longer an issue, then someone should file a Freedom of Information Act request.
Doug Zacker July 26, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Roberta - I was confused about the public-ness of the Donaldson hearing when the former principal at South Mountain went through the same process. Seeing your comment now I decided to read up a little. After reading a few explanations from experts and journalists, it seems that "public" simply means that the teacher can bring in others to testify on their behalf. In other words, they can bring the public in; however, the board is still bound by law to not disclose the details of the teacher's personnel file. I think it's unfortunate that the same mechanism that protects the teacher by preventing the board from stating specifics actually harms the community by prompting an outcry where there might not otherwise be one.

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