YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: The Wood-Ridge Board of Education tonight confirmed that Dr. Beth Ebler is finished with the district and will be paid through the end of August.
Board members didn’t discuss their plans going forward — including what that means for interim superintendent Joseph Luongo, whom they appointed to the position earlier this month in what was then characterized as a temporary move.
There was also no indication how district officials squared a five-year contract they signed Ebler to in May 2011.
Fifty or so parents turned out for tonight’s board meeting in the hopes that a letter explaining the reasons for Ebler’s departure would be read, and that the other questions would be addressed.
They were disappointed, however, to hear the trustees “only talk about financial information,” one parent said.
“I know it’s a personnel issue,” the parent told CLIFFVIEW PILOT , “but we still have no idea what happened here.”
The appointment of Luongo on June 7 came after a similarly scheduled meeting a week earlier was abruptly cancelled following publication of a story on CLIFFVIEW PILOT that Ebler was being replaced.
At the time, Ebler said she’d gotten the news from CLIFFVIEW PILOT and wasn’t aware of any changes in her status — or plans for appointing a successor.
Board President Albert Nieves later Ebler had been using vacation and sick days in the nearly two months that she’s been away from the district, characterizing her absence simply as “a leave.”
Within weeks of beginning the job in July 2011, Ebler filed a whistle-blower suit against the Plainfield school district, where she’d been a curriculum director before being let go.
Recent notable events in the Wood-Ridge district include a furor over Ebler’s support of High School Principal Sue DeNobile’s decision last year to keep six seniors from walking during graduation following their involvement in a food fight in which a school employee reportedly was struck by a flying bottle.
Ebner said she received threatening emails about the move. Students, meanwhile, said dozens of youngsters were involved and that the incident didn’t get out of hand. Those singled out said they offered to complete community service assignments but were rejected.
Following Hurricane Sandy, the Wood-Ridge district hosted displaced Moonachie students and teachers in their elementary, middle and high schools, as well as at the borough senior citizen.
“You see a district in a time of need and the first thing you do is respond to their needs,” Ebler said at the time.
This past January, the first-ever Wood-Ridge Public Education Foundation was launched. Those involved credited Ebler for her “guidance” in creating in the foundation, which seeks to promote community involvement for pupils and students in the system, as well as their parents.
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