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PLEASANTVILLE — A second principal in the local school district has been suspended, and no progress has been made in certifying a new superintendent.

Howard Johnson, the principal at Leeds Avenue School confirmed at the school board meeting Tuesday night that he was suspended just before school started.

He declined to comment “at this time” on the reasons, but speakers at the meeting supported both him and Stephen Townsend, the principal at the middle school who was suspended earlier this year.

The school board and superintendent declined to discuss the suspensions, citing personnel confidentiality.

“Leeds Avenue is doing a wonderful job under him,” first-grade teacher Tammy Mahana said of Johnson. “The parents are happy. The teachers are happy. And the students are happy.”

Several speakers urged the board to keep Townsend, who did not follow district policy in organizing a basketball tournament in the district, according to a state investigation requested by school board President Carla Thomas.

Perry Mays, chairman of the Coalition for a Safe Community, said Townsend helped organize seminars for young people on topics such as cyber-bullying and risky behavior.

Former board member Joanne Famularo said the alleged mistakes Townsend made in organizing the tournament should not cost him his job.

Parent Mario Ducote said Townsend was a dedicated administrator who helped a lot of Pleasantville students.

“From my experience, he’s always devoted all of his time to everyone, not just the kids, but the parents, too,” he said.

Ducote’s 16-year-old son, Javon, said Townsend taught him a lot about basketball and life.

“He cared about the kids,” he said. “He was a good guy.”

The board on Tuesday approved moving Nanette Stuart from her role in curriculum and instruction to principal of Leeds Avenue School.

Both the middle school and the high school remain run by interim principals.

The district also remains without a new superintendent, but the board did approve extending interim Superintendent Garnell Bailey’s term through Nov. 30.

The board renewed Bailey’s contract as assistant superintendent for another year with a 2.4 percent salary increase to $151,450. But during her period as interim superintendent, which began July 1, she will be paid a pro-rated salary of $167,500, the maximum allowed for a district the size of Pleasantville under state salary caps.

After failing to gain a majority of votes in May, Clarence Alston was approved as superintendent in August with a majority five votes. But the appointment must be approved by the district’s state monitor and the executive county superintendent.

State monitor Constance Bauer on Aug. 17 asked the board to provide documentation showing that the references provided by Alston were checked by the board as part of the hiring process. She said Tuesday she has not yet received any information on which to base a decision on whether to approve Alston. She said she authorized Bailey’s interim position to be extended until November to allow time to complete the vetting process on Alston.

The board also approved a new contract for Business Administrator Elisha Thompkins that will pay him $145,894, a 2.4 percent increase.

Thompkins said he is working on his doctorate and has 32 years of experience in finance. As an auditor, he audited the Pleasantville school district before he was hired as business administrator.

The board also tabled a resolution to name Ryan Goodman as interim coordinator of technology operations, which would give him a $10,000 stipend on top of his $65,000 salary.

Contact: 609-272-7241

DDamico@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressDamico

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