BCS relieves Superintendent of duties

At Berlin Community School’s monthly Board of Education meeting, the board relieved Superintendent Kristen Martello of her responsibilities while also naming an interim

Berlin Community School Superintendent Kristen Martello was relieved of her duties and placed on administrative leave, with salary and benefits, at last Thursday’s board of education meeting.

The vote was taken after an executive session by the board and was unanimous among the present board members, with the only board member not present being Lisa Kehoe.

The move comes after Martello’s contract was voted to not be renewed at a special meeting held on Monday, Feb. 4, by a 7–2 vote. After approximately a year of public pressure from the community and parents of students at the school, the Berlin Borough Education Association presented a vote of no confidence in the superintendent at the board’s reorganization meeting earlier this year with support from 85 percent of teachers at BCS.

Martello’s contract is set to expire at the end of June.

Later in the meeting last week, Joseph Campisi was approved as the interim assistant superintendent/acting superintendent, pending the approval of the executive county superintendent for Camden County. Campisi was previously an assistant superintendent with Cherry Hill Public Schools.

All board members approved Campisi’s nomination to the position, except for Jenine Del Palazzo, who abstained from the vote.

The board also named a committee to conduct the search for a full-time superintendent. The search will start immediately, according to board president Jocelyn Lewis.

Outside of administration changes, members of the board looked to improve the way it conducts its business and interacts with the community.

Board member Jenine Del Palazzo requested new agendas for the board to become “more transparent.”

“I’m sure the community members who have students in this school would like to see all the new hires that come in, their position, their contract date, their salary,” Del Palazzo said. “I’d also like to see retirements and resignations.”

Additionally, she requested more detailed agendas by including information contained in links to be physically on the agenda, saying the BOE meetings in other districts have much more comprehensive agendas than Berlin Community School.

Board member Jeffrey Greenberg requested adjustments to the procedure for the public to be able to participate in the meeting and address the board with concerns. In the past, the public must sign in prior to the meeting, otherwise they are unable to address the board.

“I don’t personally agree with the idea that we have to require them to sign in by a certain time and then submit that sheet by a certain time,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg also asked the three-minute timer be removed from the screen behind the board during the public participation portion of BOE meetings. Both issues are scheduled to be discussed by the policy committee prior to the next meeting.

The next meeting is currently scheduled for Thursday, March 21, however Board Administrator Cande Kristoff made the board aware the meeting will need to be before that date due to the deadline for budgets.