Musical Chairs at Lakewood Public Schools

Last year the Lakewood Board of Education appointed a new principal and assistant principal for Lakewood High School. Last Wednesday the Board did it again, setting a pattern for what appears to be a practice of promoting instability and community distress as these new moves mean that Lakewood High School students will have had three principals and assistant principals in one year.

Last August the Board transferred Principal Marcy Marshall and Vice Principal Douglas Riley from the High School to Piner Elementary School. Principal Ebony Rivera and Vice Principal Magdalis Rodriguez Jones, who had been in the top posts at Ella G. Clarke Elementary School, took Marshall and Riley’s spots. Now Rivera and Jones will be replaced by Principal Debra Long and Assistant Principal Annette Maldonado, formerly of Clifton Elementary School while Rivera and Jones will move to Ella G. Clarke Elementary School. Clifton’s new principal and assistant principal will be Deborah Meabe and Assistant Principal Tobtree Mostel, who were at Ella G. Clarke, will transfer to to Clifton Avenue School. (For more on Mostel’s struggles with Lakewood, including the district’s attempt to fire her for revealing “questionable and unethical practices,” see here.)

Parents and students are expressing their outrage, just as they did last August when the very popular Lakewood High Principal Marshall was demoted to an elementary school. From the Asbury Park Press:

The controversial school leadership restructuring brought tensions that simmer in Lakewood to the forefront. Several current and former students spoke to the board, expressing concern the board was not listening to their concerns nor acting on their behalf.

(At the same time last August the Board moved Arthur Lang, longtime high school math teacher, to the middle school, despite a paucity of high school math teachers. Lang said the transfer was “being undertaken to discipline and retaliate against me for my involvement in the foregoing litigation.”)

The transfers this time evoked protests as well. Riffat Jamal, the mother of a high school senior, said she was “really shocked at what they are doing.”

“It is going to be so bad for the kids,” she said in an interview. “This is also not a normal year with the pandemic.” Jamal said Rivera and Rodriguez Jones “have performed well especially under these circumstances.”

What do you think?


  1. Avatar Chalimar

    It’s calculated and racial motivated. Mrs. Rivera operates from a place of integrity and refused to be abused or allow the staff and students to be. Laura Winters a coward and a bully. Her own incompetence shows in how poorly this district is being run and clearly based on the amount of staffing changes in such a short time they are retaliatory. She sold these minority children’s education for a seat at the board attorney’s table. #Enoughisenough #hertimeisup

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