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LITTLE SIVER: RBR TEACHERS BLAST MOORE

red-bank-regional-lou-moore-032019-2-500x332-5744006Superintendent Lou Moore at Wednesday’s RBR board meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic_03-220x138-9108919The union representing teachers at Red Bank Regional accused Superintendent Lou Moore Wednesday night of running the three-town high school district with an “authoritarian” approach and a “general lack of integrity.”

The bombshell accusations were made at a board of ed meeting hours after the Red Bank Regional Education Association’s members “overwhelmingly” cast a no-confidence vote against Moore, said math teacher Sunny Lenhard.

red-bank-regional-sunny-lenhard-032019-2-500x332-7785978Teacher Sunny Lenhard announced the ‘no confidence’ vote on Moore at the board meeting. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

The vote was the first such “drastic measure” by the union in 45 years, Lenhard told a large audience that had gathered to push back against budget cuts.

Moore, she said, reading from a statement, lacks “effective leadership skills;” employs an “authoritarian” management style; ignores input from staff; demonstrates “fiscal irresponsibility” and a “lack of knowledge of school operations,” and more.

“Dr. Moore is often late for meetings and observations,” said Lenhard. “He often misses deadlines. He is often on his phone during meetings and rarely takes notes. Dr. Moore has emotional outbursts and will become hostile when questioned.”

She urged the board to work with the union “to form an action plan for our success.”

Here’s the full statement: RBREA Moore 032019

Moore, who was hired to run the district in 2016 after nine years as principal at a Bergen County high school, did not immediately respond. But several people rushed to vouch for him.

Rosie Perry, a Red Bank parent who served on a committee related to a successful RBR referendum effort last year, called Moore “a consummate professional who cares,” and said he was unstinting in addressing the concerns of Red Bank’s large population of immigrant students.

“His passion for his job and his dedication to the children are unquestioned in my mind, and I cannot wait for our daughter to be in this school next year,” Perry said.

Peggy Mercereau, president of the RBR Buc Backers booster club, said she had worked closely with Moore for the past two years. While she was unfamiliar with all of the teacher’s concerns, she said, she found Moore “always optimistic… open minded, works well with everybody and listens.”

Board president John Garofalo said that through the development of the budget introduced at the meeting, Moore had “fought tooth and nail to save the teachers to keep up the educational excellence in the school.”

“He has demonstrated the utmost integrity,” said Garofalo, a board member for the past 18 years. “That’s why the board of education, I think last year, gave him a five-year contract to run this school.

“This man is here night and day, doing the work we hired him to do, to make sure your children get the best education possible, and it breaks my heart to hear those comments,” Garofalo said.

Afterward, Lenhard told redbankgreen that the union is in contract talks with the district and that the discussions are “going fine. Negotiations are not the issue.”

The union, she said, is “not at all” not calling for Moore’s ouster. “We thought the board would hear us and recognize that we’re a good staff, but they could not be more disconnected from the staff,” she said.

Lenhard said the critique, while directed at Moore, also implicitly targeted the board, which she said has been “empowering” Moore so that “nobody in the building has a voice but him, which is a dangerous position to be in.”

“I’m sorry it’s come to this,” she said, but the board has repeatedly deflected the teachers’ concerns about Moore’s leadership, telling them to “go through the chain of command. But the issue’s with our chain of command.”

Lenhard’s announcement came in the midst of an already contentious board meeting. Several hundred parents and students, many of them affiliated with the boys’ ice hockey and coed golf programs, had jammed the small administration building where the board usually meets, intending to protest budget cuts that imperil those sports.

The large turnout forced the relocation of the meeting to the larger media center, where many in the audience teed up board members over communication concerns and other issues.

Here’s the full statement: RBREA Moore 032019

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