After receiving no salary increase, while seven other administrators received at least a 4 percent raise, Blind Brook High School's Assistant Principal Jane Wermuth resigned last week and is moving on to a school in Yonkers.
Superintendent William Stark announced Wermuth's resignation in an email sent to the school community on August 23.
Wermuth, who worked at the school for seven years, said she resigned because she and the school district had differing viewpoints, but did not elaborate about what exactly those points of contention were.
"The district changed and I grew, but my philosophy didn't change," she said. "The difference of philosophy made it hard and I found I lost my passion. I needed to find a reason to love coming to work again."
She said she hoped to leave the Blind Brook school community with a renewed hope in education for children, parents and fellow educators.
"I hope the parents know how much I loved their children," Wermuth said. "As if they were my own."
Wermuth has taken a position as the principal of Yonkers Middle School. Maura Pheney, a spokesperson for the Yonkers School District, said the district hired Wermuth on August 16, which was also the official first day for the district's administrators.
Wermuth, who also served as assistant principal of the middle school this past school year, was the only administrator in Blind Brook not to receive a raise for the upcoming school year. Salary increases for administrators in Blind Brook are based on a merit system in which the superintendent evaluates administrators for a raise each year. Rye Patch tried to obtain a copy of Wermuth's evaluation, but personnel records are not subject to the FOIL law and thereby can't publicly be released. Stark declined to comment on Wermuth's evaluation.
Wermuth will receive a pay boost in her new position. According to Pheney, Wermuth's salary as principal of the Yonkers Middle School for the 2010-2011 school year is $132,777, $13,000 higher than the salary she received at Blind Brook.
Wermuth said the Yonkers School District showed an act of good faith, and she was appreciative not only of the salary, but of the way it handled her hiring.
"They were very good to me in Yonkers," Wermuth said. "They were respectful and cautious, as educational money is hard to find."
As Wermuth transitions into her new position, parents and students within the Blind Brook community, such as Esther Ehrman, will miss her.
Esther Ehrman, whose son Ben will be a junior at Blind Brook, said Wermuth's departure is a huge loss for the school district.
"I loved her," Ehrman said. "I thought she was a superior educator. I don't know how they will fill her shoes."
Ehrman credits Wermuth with stopping other kids from bullying her autistic son last year. She said she and her son had complained about the bullying to several people within the district, but it wasn't until they spoke to Wermuth that the bullying stopped.
"She stepped in and within a day had fixed it," Ehrman said.
According to Ehrman, Wermuth sat down with her and Ben, all of the students involved and their parents to speak about the issues.
"It wasn't that she threatened them," Ehrman said. "She got them to understand Ben."
Ehrman said she was worried that the bullying would resume now that Wermuth has left. She said she has retained a lawyer in case of any problems, and thought about transferring her son to a different school, but decided against it because he is starting his junior year.
While neither Stark nor Board of Education President Steve Kaplan would comment on any individual instance of bullying, Stark said that while the school climate is not perfect, he feels it is positive overall.
"Any parent who feels they have a concern about any issue, there are a whole range of services available to them," Stark said.
According to Stark, the search for a new assistant principal begins immediately, and an advertisement for the position will most likely appear in newspapers over Labor Day weekend.
Stark said both internal and external candidates will be considered, and while there is no timeline for the hiring, having the full complement of administrators is important.
"The most important thing is getting it correct," Stark said.
Though Wermuth's departure was effective on August 26,the Board of Education will officially accept her resignation at the next board meeting on September 2.