Jersey City Schools Superintendent Epps likely to leave post after $268K contract settlement

JERSEY CITY AND BEYOND – After 11 years at the helm of the Jersey City Public School District, School Superintendent Charles Epps will likely leave his position on Dec. 31.
By a vote of 5 to 4 Board of Education trustees approved Tuesday night a $268,000 contract settlement with Epps that gives him a new contract with the school district that expires at the end of the year.
The superintendent’s last contract expired after the 2012-2011 school year and a divided Board of Education has wrangled for months over whether to give Epps a new contract or not. Over the last two years the board majority has shifted from one that supported Epps to one that favors his replacement.
Tuesday night Board President Sterling Waterman, Carol Harrison-Arnold, Marvin Adames, Suzanne “Sue” Mack, and Carol Lester – who have publicly expressed their intent to conduct a national applicant search to replace Epps – all voted to approve the settlement. Four board members voted against the settlement agreement.
Epps has been a controversial figure for much of his 11 years as superintendent. He was appointed as Jersey City schools superintendent in 2000, 11 years after the state took over the school district due to low test scores and other problems.
His tenure and salary have been controversial ever since.
Last year, the local school board gave him a new three-year contract after a majority of board members decided against doing a national search to replace him. The decision angered some parents and activists because just a year before, in 2009, 26 of the district’s 37 schools failed to make “adequate yearly progress,” according to U.S. Department of Education guidelines. The district has also failed to meet other federal benchmarks for the past decade.
Since that three-year contract extension was approved, however, voters have replaced several of the trustees who supported it with new representatives. – E. Assata Wright

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