MULLICA TOWNSHIP — Supporters of suspended kindergarten teacher Kelly Mascio delivered a petition with more than 720 local signatures to the Board of Education at Wednesday night’s meeting, asking the board not to renew Superintendent Brenda Harring-Marro’s contract.
Donna Davis of Columbia Road delivered the petition to a long ovation from at least 150 attendees. The group not only feels the superintendent has shown poor judgment in filing tenure charges against 16-year veteran teacher Mascio, Davis said, but is also angry over the alleged gutting of the gifted and talented program, privatizing of cafeteria workers, and creating a hostile working environment that has caused a large turnover in staff.
Harring-Marro and the board are moving to fire her after Mascio reported that two of her students engaged in sexual play in a classroom bathroom Sept. 30.
The charges, which alleged that Mascio did not properly supervise her students, were certified by the Board of Education in late February. An arbitrator for the state Commissioner of Education’s office will decide her fate within about four months.
“This will affect the community emotionally and financially,” said Jaime Cirillo, a parent with two children in the school system.
Mascio was suspended with pay for about five months, which meant the district was paying her and her replacement for that time period. Mascio became suspended without pay in late February, after the board certified the charges and sent them to Trenton.
People on both sides of the issue have said that the controversy is creating bad feelings among township residents, is harming community cohesion and morale within the school system and in the community.
The teacher’s supporters have sold yellow and black “We Support Kelly” signs to residents, which have gone up on property around the township. Cirillo said someone has been removing the yard signs, and Mascio supporters have been replacing them.
The Mullica Township Education Association also formally presented the results of its vote of no confidence in Harring-Marro.
MTEA President Barbara Rheault, who is also a Democratic township committeewoman, reported that 93 percent of 107 teachers and staff voting March 5 expressed no confidence in Harring-Marro’s ability to continue to lead the district.
Rheault announced on Tuesday that she will run for a seat on the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
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