Haddonfield School District dealing with revelation of low QSAC scores

Update also provided on HIB issues throughout district.

The state Department of Education released the results of Haddonfield School District’s Quality Single Accountability Continuum review on June 6, and the district was found to have performed below state standards on all five evaluative criteria. 

At its latest meeting, Assistant Superintendent Chuck Klaus presented the state’s findings and discussed the ramifications of the report. 

The QSAC measures all state public school districts on proficiency in the following components the state DOE deems relevant for effective operation: Instruction and Program, Fiscal, Governance, Operations and Personnel. The highest possible score for each component is 100 percent, while passing grade in New Jersey is 80 percent or better. 

Haddonfield clocked in with ratings of 63 percent for Instruction and Program, 75 percent in Fiscal, 78 percent regarding Board Governance, 75 percent in Operations and 46 percent in Personnel. 

“Simply put, we did not pass any area of the QSAC review and will need to undergo future reviews yearly until we reach proficiency in all areas,” said board of education President Adam Sangillo in a release presented to the public at the meeting. 

“While we are saddened by these scores, we are not surprised. Members of our board have been told by various individuals over the past 15 to 18 months that many systems are not in their proper place within the district. With Mr. Klaus’ knowledge of the culture of Haddonfield and Dr. Mussoline’s knowledge of the systems needed to be in place … we have been proactively addressing the issues brought to light today by the QSAC process.” 

Haddonfield last underwent QSAC evaluation in 2011, and the state mandates this review in all school districts once every 10 years. Groundwork for improvement and remediation began at the start of the school year. 

“As you remember, we started this in September and October, gathering material for QSAC to do a self-assessment, putting together a team and then submitting our assessment to the county, which was done in December. We knew we would be below that 80 percent in two areas: instruction and fiscal management, but when the county got done the review, we were below that 80 percent in all five areas,” said Klaus during his presentation to the board. 

Klaus revealed one of the biggest losses amongst the five criteria came in the personnel department, under the subheading for a district-wide professional development plan, which was rejected. According to Klaus, the state rejected the plan because it was deemed to not be aligned with state-mandated goals of professional development. The result was a 25- to 30-point reduction, which led to that area having the poorest score of the five for the district. 

Klaus also said additional issues with the personnel score dealt with systems that were not in place at the time of evaluation, but are being worked on district-wide. 

“Two of the indicators that we lost points on, I did appeal; one of them was the New Jersey Smart timeline, in which we did make the timeline but we lost points on that, the other was the ESL (English as a Second Language) program. After we submitted it, the state sent us our approval forms, since the program was approved by the department of ed, so I resubmitted with (the forms), and we should get those points back, I think,” Klaus added. 

Klaus additionally revealed there are 37 indicators the district has to identify and make improvements on based on the QSAC report, which the state required an update on no later than June 21. 

The board was also apprised of the second part of the bi-annual Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying report for the academic year. Sandy Horwitz, district anti-bullying coordinator, provided the end-of-year update. 

In the period between January and June, the district saw five HIB reports: three from Haddonfield Middle School and one each from Haddonfield Memorial High School and Tatem Elementary, with two confirmed HIB cases. 

The total number of alleged HIB reports for the district for the entire school year was 14: five at HMHS, 4 at HMS, and five at the elementary-school level. Four of those were confirmed: two at Central Elementary and one each at the middle school and high school. 

One statistic Horwitz brought to the attention of the board was the five alleged HIB incidents regarding students with disabilities. 

“We’re a little high there. We can do a better job in trying to sensitize our kids not to pick on other kids who are disabled,” Horwitz said. “Discipline and remediation based on the circumstances and based on the individual students involved are implemented for each case. And parent involvement and support are needed to prevent HIB.” 

A full breakdown of the HIB criteria for all district schools can be found online at: https://haddonfieldschools.org/haddonfield-hib/.

In other news:

  • The board approved the resignation of HMHS assistant principal Kathryn Mele, effective June 30, and welcomed both new HMHS dean of students Hamisi Tarrant (who will assume his role effective July 1) and new learning disabilities teacher consultant Carmen Henderson (who is expected to assume her role on July 8).
  • The board also approved a recommendation for the superintendent to award employment contracts for open positions for the 2019-20 academic year, essentially empowering Mussoline to pluck talent for the district before candidates are chosen by other schools in other districts.
  • The board issued commendations to HMHS junior Jack DeVita for winning the Dwight D. Eisenhower Leadership Award; to HMHS students Payton Weiner, Eve Jensen and Shannon Goetter for their poetic contributions in celebration of Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday; and to 34 HMHS students for honorable mention, 13 bronze-medal winners, four silver-medalists in the 2019 National Spanish Exam.