Superintendent Suspended

Board of Education places Superintendent Anthony Cavanna on leave pending further investigation into 'district issues.'


Superintendent Anthony Cavanna was suspended by the West Orange Board of Education on Wednesday. 

Cavanna was placed on paid administrative leave pending further investigation into “district issues,” said Board President Laura Lab. The board also voted not to rehire Cavanna as superintendent of the district after his contract expires in June 2013.

Cavanna was not present at the meeting that evening. 

The board had unanimously appointed Cavanna to a four-year term as superintendent in 2009. Before coming to West Orange, Cavanna worked in schools in New Jersey and New York as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and deputy superintendent of schools.

Assistant Superintendent Donna Rando was appointed by the board to act as superintendent during Cavanna’s absence. 

In a prepared statement, Lab said that while Rando serves as superintendent of schools during Cavanna’s leave, the board “expects no interruption to the district’s commitment to serving the needs of the children of West Orange.”  

The board passed all resolutions unanimously and without any discussion. 

Sherley Jean-Baptiste was one of the only members of the community to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting. 

“I don’t know what the issues are ... but I do applaud the board for taking that stand at such a time,” said Jean-Baptiste, “knowing that there might be frictions, but you did take a stand. I applaud you, and thank you for looking out for the district.” 

Lab and Rando were tight lipped about the reasons surrounding Cavanna’s suspension and provided no further comments. 

However, contention between the board and Cavanna seems to have been brewing for some time. 

In July 2011, rumors flew around town and online comment boards -- which proved to be untrue -- that the board was during his yearly evaluation by the board. The rumors caused residents to contact the board, and statements to be issued by school attorney Steven Christiano. 

In addition, the board has also been beset with investigations. Ethics charges were against Lab and board member Megan Brill.

One male teacher, who spoke on the condition on anonymity, said, in his opinion, Cavanna has been a divisive figure in the district and that the board has been attempting for more than a year to get rid of him. 

“There has been a big problem in the district for a very longtime ever since [Cavanna] entered the office,” said the teacher. “It has caused a great division in the district as well.

“My hat’s off to the board for doing what was needed to be done.” 

The next board meeting will be Monday, July 23, at 8 p.m. in the district’s administration building, 179 Eagle Rock Ave. 

Tolstoy September 28, 2012 at 05:51 PM
My teen is new in-district & to the hs though we've lived here about 15 years (was in a parochial school previously). I was impressed with Mr. Agliomento's impact as principal and am sorry he retired. Was his retirement related to Dr. C's leadership? I have no facts just wondering. I do not know if it's accurate but heard Dr. A. had been brought in to 'clean up' the high school. I'm sorry he retired before my child graduated. My concern regarding Mr. Moore is not paper qualifications rather real-world ones. WOHS is a big place with lots of upper management/administration, and home for our kids for 4 years. We need someone who's been in the trenches and can keep the discipline and standards at a adequate level & work to upgrade them. I disagree with others about the riff-raff there - these are our kids & we as parents must share the blame/successes for their learning and behavior. Parents DO need to be involved, daily. I am. But we also need an experienced leader at the helm. I am glad my child is willing to work hard and qualifies for honors courses - we learned (and told by other parents) early those are the 'only' good classes. it's the day to day learning us parents see that really matters. I'm glad my child is almost done there as I worry how Mr. Moore's inexperience will impact the school to maintain/upgrade its performance-for our kids sake. It affects our kids learning not only here but where they go in their educational lives next.
Vicki Russo September 28, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Mr. A's retirement was planned when he took the job in West Orange. Dr. Cavanna was removed by the Board members with no explanation to the parents, citizens or anybody. The taxpayers are paying for 2 salaries in the Supt. position. I do not understand why you feel Mr. Moore is inexperienced. He has been in the district for over 15 yrs. He was the Asst. Principal during Mr. A's tenure and Mr. A & Dr. Cavanna choose Hayden Moore for the next principle. I have met with Mr. Moore and his concern over the kids welfare, education and future for the kids is the foremost issue for his job at the High School. Before the parents or new residents condemn him why don't you see how Mr. Moore operates in his new position. By the way, the staff at the HS is happy Mr. Moore was promoted to Principal. It seems to me if everyone who works or has worked with this man is complimentary and pleased with his appointment, we as residents should watch Mr. Moore excel WOHS in the community until we start throwing stones.
Kate Farrell September 28, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Mr. Moore was the assistant principal and handled a multitude of responsibilities, including discipline, for the past several years. He has the respect of the students and has a new assistant principal team in place. He is putting in 12 hour days to make sure things are being addressed, whether schedules, personnel issues, or student issues. And what you have heard is not accurate... the honors classes are more challenging and contain a higher percentage of kids that want to do well academically, but the regular classes and teachers are also good. By the time a kid gets to high school, they've decided if they want to do well academically or not. While this challenges the school district in many ways, at the end of the day, they can't replace parent involvement or make students want to learn.
Vicki Russo September 28, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Why are you responding that I have heard something incorrectly? I think you need to respond to Tolstoy not me. I am a FAN of Mr.Moore's.
Kate Farrell September 29, 2012 at 01:24 PM
I was responding to Tolstoy! You must have posted at the same time I was posting my response. :)


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