HomeCherry Hill NewsBoard approves teacher transfers despite protests

Board approves teacher transfers despite protests

Number of moves involved is largest in recent memory


Despite months of public protest from teachers, students and the community, the township board of education approved the transfer of 46 teachers at its July 12 meeting.

The vote was 6 to 2, with board members Sally Tong and Jennifer Fleisher voting no. The number of transfers is the largest in recent history, and there has been pushback on the idea since its announcement in April. 

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Some of the moves will be within schools; others will involve transfers from high schools to high school or high school to middle school. Superintendent Dr. Joseph Meloche noted that the transfers are both voluntary and involuntary.

Concerns from the public have been that specialized teachers who have played a vital role in a school’s community were being moved to teach at different levels, that they are being transferred from schools in which they are deeply invested –  some for more than 20 years – and that the transfers would be another adjustment after what instructors faced during the pandemic.

“This is something that the district does every single year,” said Meloche. “Our focus is always as a school district on the students, and what is it we can do to benefit students in the best possible way.”

Prior to the vote, East and West teachers pleaded to stay in their current assignments. Though some parents were in favor of the transfer between the high schools, none of the teachers who spoke were enthusiastic about it.

Tom Howard, a teacher at East for the last 22 years, shared his reaction to the transfers.

“I have seen colleagues in tears over the thought of leaving a community they have loved and dedicated their lives to,” he noted. “I have listened in anguish to my dear friend tell me that he can’t sleep, he can’t read, he shakes at the thought of leaving a community that he loves so much.

“ … To me, the message was, we don’t see you as individuals, we see you as cogs in the machine, and to me, it’s demoralizing, it’s humiliating, and it’s sad,” Howard added. “To me, as somebody who has dedicated my professional life to this district for 22 years.”

The full list of transfers can be found on the board agenda at the district website, chclc.org.

Also during the council session, the board of education approved a bond referendum vote for Thursday, Oct. 6, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Members clarified that while ADA (American With Disabilities Act) projects were removed from the referendum, they will be paid for by capital funds and other means and will be completed faster without being in the bond.

“From a time perspective, (removing the ADA work) can only be an upgrade,” said Board President Ben Ovadia. “This bond work will take five years … There’s no timeline for the bond that would get the projects done sooner than that.”

In other news:

  • The district received funding as part of the federal extension Keep Kids Fed program to continue distributing free food during the summer. Distribution will happen farmers market-style at East, from noon to 2 p.m. People are asked to bring their own bags
  • The board continued its discussion on either adding a student comment section or making the time for public comments more consistent. No action was taken.
  • Policies approved included board members being able to attend remotely  once per quarter, and changing the wording from “three action meetings” to “three consecutive meetings” before board removal.
  • The board is searching for a new member after accepting Kimberly Friddell’s resignation.

    Cherry Hill Public Schools Public Information Officer Barbara Wilson is recognized as the New Jersey School Public Relations Association’s communicator of the year at the board of education’s July 12 meeting. She was selected by a panel of industry professionals and college professors. (Special to The Sun/The Sun)
  • Public Information Officer Barbara Wilson was recognized by New Jersey School Public Relations Association as Communicator of the Year.

The next board meeting is July 26 at 6:30 p.m., in the Lewis Administration Building.


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