LETTER: Jersey City BOE should nix superintendent search and appoint Dr. Fernandez


In a letter to the editor, retired educator Perry Cecchini explains why he feels the Jersey City Board of Education should nix their superintendent search and appoint Dr. Norma Fernandez, the interim schools chief, to the role.

Jersey City Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Norma Fernandez. Screenshot via YouTube.

Dear Editor,

I’m writing this letter in support of current Interim Superintendent of Schools in Jersey City, Dr. Norma Fernandez.

Dr. Fernandez, the first female Latina superintendent of schools, has stepped in to a most difficult role and after two months, there is an ill conceived plan to not appoint Dr. Fernandez to the position. The plan calls for a “search.”

Dr. Fernandez has spent her entire 40-year career in Jersey City in various positions without controversy and is extremely qualified and dedicated to the children, parents, and the entire Jersey City community.

Sadly, behind the scenes political machinations are at work once again. The last “Search” was a disaster with secret board meetings and the installation of Dr. Lyles. Any Jersey City staff member can address that these searches are fruitless.

Inevitably it’s an “outsider“ with no vision or knowledge of Jersey City. That last “search” set the district back decades.

Dr. Fernandez has visited all the schools, has the requisite talent and ability for this role. Why spend enormous amounts of money for this search?

In closing, I hope that the Jersey City Board of Education abandons this notion of “search” and allows Dr. Fernandez to continue to lead the 30,000 student school district. She is a proven educational leader and role model.

Thank you.

Perry Cecchini
Retired educator

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  1. It’s great that Norma Fernandez(interim Jersey City School superintendent) is extremely popular with residents of Jersey City and she appears to be more than capable of providing leadership to the board. However, as a parent of children in district for over 15 years I have one major concern.

    Let’s start with a general consensus from parents in this district, JCBOE is a mess and could use a total reshaping in many departments. Where do we begin? Zoning, testing, transportation (really unbelievable)..take your pick. For now we will just choose a major one. Special Education.

    Special Education in Jersey City is about 30 years outdated. It’s an example of a old general store selling useless products in a growing new
    High tech city. The office and its supervisors even look exactly the same as 30 years ago. I have never met a person of color in a supervisor role in 15 years. That’s normally not a big deal but anybody notice how diverse our city is? The office operates as a totalatarian meat market. They make a decision regarding students academic plan and use in district bureaucracy to make parents accept decisions. Example, a SPED supervisor is currently refusing to place a student in another school after 6 year old child ran out of an non secure school building. Oh we are sorry, is it to much to ask if we don’t want our children in unsafe settings? I suspect this office is full of individuals that believe they can manipulate residents of Jersey City. They could be unaware that hard working tax paying Latino, African American, East Indian, others are often progressive, aware parents. Jersey City Special Education has no positive track record, hold them up next to any district of similar size and compare the initiatives for autism. Guess what? They have none.

    So my problem is if Fernandez has been with JCBOE for 40 years, will she be spark for change? Or just continue to support deadbeat co workers, friends, administrators? I tend to believe most educators are cool but only a handful of politicians are OK. I hope she stays true to being an educator.