In a letter to the editor, Hoboken resident Denise Guarino details why she believes honesty and integrity are the most important qualifications of a superintendent of schools.
In Hoboken, issues have come to light that the Superintendent of Schools – Christine Johnson – has been deliberately using the title “Dr.” for the last 13 years without having received her degree.
It was not until August of 2022 that Johnson had her doctoral degree (D. Litt) conferred at Drew University.
She used the title “Dr” while a superintendent in Boonton and she has used the title of “Dr” since being hired in Hoboken in 2015. To be clear, she is a certified superintendent. That is not at question.
But she has been consciously misinforming the public about her educational title and accomplishments.
By doing so she has enjoyed the prestige, deference, honor, and assumed expertise our society and our community places on anyone who has earned their doctorate.
Superintendent Johnson’s deliberate use of an educational title she did not earn for 13 years is a serious and morally bankrupt offense, certainly narcissistic and unethical.
Her other degrees or professional achievements are irrelevant in the face of such misrepresentation. It’s alarming that the Hoboken Board of Education has not made a responsible statement condemning this action.
Is lying the new normal in Hoboken leadership? Are we to believe there are no consequences for misrepresentation?
Educational leaders must exhibit exemplary behavior. Johnson’s actions set negative examples for our students. Every student in our district deserves a leader who upholds moral and ethical standards with integrity.
It’s not a question of whether Superintendent Johnson possesses the necessary degrees or certifications for the job; rather, it’s about issues of honesty, integrity, personal responsibility, transparency and selfishness.
It’s unacceptable that the Hoboken Board of Education would be supportive of such a large breach of the district’s ethical code of conduct.
Superintendent Johnson also showed significant disrespect for the Drew University PhD program by claiming a degree for over a decade, prior to it being conferred. This was not an isolated incident or mistake but rather intentional fraud that had gone on for some time.
Our children are entitled to a leadership team that prioritizes values, principles, and honesty above all else.
To Superintendent Johnson I would like to say, when one engages in deceit and deception, their reputation is tarnished, and they can no longer be trusted. The community is asking you to use this as a teachable moment for our students.
Tell them it was wrong to lie, misrepresent and claim an educational title not conferred. Think about others, not yourself in this matter. You are not being attacked, you are being asked to be accountable for your behavior.
Does accountability matter to you, is it something students should learn?
Assuming Superintendent Johnson and the Board of Education, continue not to address this irresponsible conduct, I am encouraging all Hoboken High School seniors, to use their graduation commencement as an opportunity to protest, by refraining from acknowledging Superintendent Johnson with a handshake upon receiving their diploma.
This would serve as a way to demonstrate to their community and their parents that they have developed critical life skills related to honesty, integrity, and transparency, despite the lack of a positive example from Superintendent Johnson, our students understand the difference between right and wrong.