Hoboken Principal Cella Resigns

1/15/2010:

This week, Hoboken High School Principal Lorraine Cella submitted her resignation effective March 15, 2010.

One Hoboken parent shares their thoughts:

Hoboken lost a diamond in the rough

Lorraine Cella Hoboken Principal Resigns NJ“I heard a rumor about this several weeks ago. Dr. Cella is the best thing Jack Raslowsky did during his tenure, other than the curriculum review. She was the first administrator hired from outside the district in over a decade. She took what many consider the biggest challenge in the district (Hoboken High School) and began to turn it around. She did have the benefit of having most special education and “high risk” students moved to the alternative high school at Demarest, but she took on and significantly improved curriculum and infrastructure issues that had been neglected for years.

I can’t say for sure what’s driving her decision other than Raslowsky’s departure. He went out of his way to protect her; he would not transfer her out of the high school, for instance, while other administrators are moved around the district involuntarily. This provided the high school with stability, a welcome change for a school that had little of that for several years before she arrived with several leadership turnovers and even Superintendent Pat Gagliardi doing double duty as superintendent and high school principal for a couple of years. The improvements at HHS may also be a function of all the money she allocated to upgrading computer and science labs. Some people criticized her for this, but in my opinion these are tangible improvements that are are serving students well. I found her always accessible (if not always willing to grant my requests, she was available to meet and listen every time), and she always returned phone calls and emails, something I cannot say about some members of the Guidance Department. She cooperated with members of the community (notably Irene Sobolov) in efforts to “sell” the high school to the city’s residents, although she at first did not understand the need for it. Her experience in public schools was in communities that supported their neighborhood schools, and she was a bit slow accepting the role of PR person in addition to her duties as educator, but she eventually signed on.

She has a PhD from Columbia’s Teachers College, so I am wondering if she applied for the position of superintendent and got snubbed. That is only speculation, I don’t know if that’s the case but I believe she would have made a fine superintendent. We had a couple of interesting conversations about education philosophy and how the district could be improved that showed me that she was extremely competent, thoughtful and caring.

Another speculation is that I think she butted heads with Roe Markle several times. Since Acting Superintendent Peter Carter appears to be Roe’s guy, that dynamic may have made her life difficult over the past several months. Ms. Markle holds grudges and personal biases that have been openly displayed at meetings and in several of her votes as board member. She will vote against an appointment simply because she does not like the person or has had a disagreement with them. As board president, she is a very powerful person right now.

The timing of Dr. Cella’s resignation makes one or both of the above scenarios a strong possibility, or in the best case she has an attractive offer elsewhere. She has high qualifications and should have no problem finding another position.

It will be interesting to see who replaces Dr. Cella. I wonder if the board will conduct a search outside the district or if Roe and the board majority have someone in mind. I have heard rumors that Charlie Tortorella may be interested (he is also rumored to be a candidate for superintendent). Tortorella’s time as Wallace School principal made him very popular with the moms that are currently driving the agenda at the board, so we’ll see how that plays out.

If Dr. Cella’s resignation is the result of petty politics rooted in what some people may have perceived to be her status as Raslowsky’s “protege,” then today is a very sad day for Hoboken students, parents, and taxpayers alike. The current board has a tall order finding a replacement for her — I can only pray that we get someone as good.”

See Dr. Cella’s resignation letter here.

Leave a Reply

16 Comments on "Hoboken Principal Cella Resigns"

truth1
Member
truth1

A new supt. of schools should be here in June. The current discourse is interesting. Look forward to the comments regarding the selection of the new head of the district and ensuing comments on their performance.

camel2
Member
camel2

Thanks for setting the record straight, Dr. Petrosino!

Hoboken is a strange town, with even stranger bedfellows, especially when it comes to trying to find accurate online information. I’d suggest to 411 that the paid political hacks for the Kids First or City Hall administration get the boot. Constantly disrupting civil discourse with angry and emotionally filled mis-truths.

A_Petrosino
Member
A_Petrosino

I would encourage readers of “Hoboken 411” to take a look at an article published by The Jersey Journal (and also discussed on my blog) referring to the recent report of last year’s- (2008-09) mandated state testing. The article is entitled: “State education scores are in, Bayonne and Hoboken excel, Jersey City underachieves again”
nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2010/01/state_education_scores_are_in.html

The tests were taken and results tabulated and reported based on district leadership under former Superintendent Raslowsky (a.k.a. “BC”).

Perhaps a discussion of **THESE** final test score results should be part of Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting? Results presented at a previous Board meeting in November were *preliminary*— One may want to ask where is the “outrage” now???

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
-Hamlet Act 3, scene 2, 229–230

Dr. Anthony Petrosino
Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools
Hoboken School District 2007-2009

In response to camel2 who said:
Thanks for setting the record straight, Dr. Petrosino!

Hoboken is a strange town, with even stranger bedfellows, especially when it comes to trying to find accurate online information. I’d suggest to 411 that the paid political hacks for the Kids First or City Hall administration get the boot. Constantly disrupting civil discourse with angry and emotionally filled mis-truths.

poed
Member
poed
Again, with all due respect, this is what you are proud of? “the 2009 standardized testing Tuesday night, and the results weren’t good. In nine out of 14 exams, passing rates in the district were at least 15 points lower than the state average. The biggest drop in passing rates was at Connors in third-grade language arts, where rates went from 95.5 percent passing in 2008 to 31.9 percent in 2009. At Hoboken High School, passing rates in language arts fell from 81.8 percent in 2008 to 70.1 percent in 2009 and in math from 66.2 percent to 53.2 percent. The district did better than state averages on two tests – fifth-grade math and eighth-grade language arts.” I noticed you didn’t mention the audit, but then again accomplishing 15 points below state average on 9 out of 14 exams is something you are proud of and touting as one of Jack’s accomplishments. So I assume, we should all believe this news is rosey and something we should all be proud of. Please, stop trying to spin the facts. Everyone was dismayed regarding the test scores and audit findings (correction: almost everyone). BTW, I highly doubt 53% at or above grade level meets the benchmark for passing AYP. Would you kindly direct me to the actual NJDOE website that indicates AYP benchmarks for the 2008-09 year? In response to A_Petrosino who said: I would encourage readers of “Hoboken 411” to take a look at an article published by The Jersey Journal… Read more »
A_Petrosino
Member
A_Petrosino
poed—I appreciate your response and you make some very good points. Perhaps I did not explain myself completely. I. I attempted to indicate that according to The Jersey Journal- both Bayonne and Hoboken ‘excelled’ (their word not mine) on the 2008-09 standardized state testing. The Jersey Journal article goes on to mention all the Hoboken Public Schools made AYP (adequate yearly progress) except for Connors. Clearly, improvements need to be made and no one is or was 100% satisfied with the results. But, making AYP is not a trivial accomplishment and should not be taken for granted. As a point of fact, over 150 ADDITIONAL schools in NJ did NOT make AYP in 2008-09 bringing the total statewide failure number to more than 800 (out of a total of 2,200 schools tested). Looked at in a different way, 63.4% of schools statewide made AYP. In Hoboken, the number last year was 75% (Brandt and The Demarest Alternative School do not figure in the calculation. If they did, the number would be more like 84% since neither school failed to make AYP last year). The point being, as I have said many times before, Superintendent Raslowsky and myself were involved in working with a good district and trying to make it better. The district we left in August, 2009 was on a clear and positive upward trajectory as measured by objective state and federal test scores and data. In my opinion, this is not the message the current Board of Education… Read more »
DavidsSling
Member
DavidsSling
You are reporting wrong Scores for 2009 I think it is a grave mistake to turn to the pitiful Jersey Journal for indications of excellence. Are they “recognized journalists” in the same way that HUMC won an award for excellence by a business organization?????? At Hoboken High School, passing rates in language arts/Math fell In 2009 Language arts 2008 81.8 percent to 2009 70.1 percent Fell 11.7% Math 2008 66.2 percent 2009 53.2 percent. Fell 13% Failing to respond to an audit from the past is irresponsible and the rest of the test scores for the other grades are so terrible (Except for Calabro there were 60% drops in scores) it is an indication what you and Raslowsky did was wrong. For the first time in years The Hoboken School system is finally being run legally and professionally. Unlike the poster camel2 who is obviously a friend or partner in crime of the corrupt x BOE members who have been stealing from the system for years. Everybody at Kids First were volunteers / parents/ taxpayers and getting nothing from the system except the desire to make it better for all.They are many different people and supported different candidates for Mayor In response to A_Petrosino who said: poed—I appreciate your response and you make some very good points. Perhaps I did not explain myself completely. I. I attempted to indicate that according to The Jersey Journal- both Bayonne and Hoboken ‘excelled’ (their word not mine) on the 2008-09 standardized state testing.… Read more »
A_Petrosino
Member
A_Petrosino
@DavidsSling- >You are reporting wrong Scores for 2009 >I think it is a grave mistake to turn to the pitiful Jersey Journal for indications of excellence. >Are they “recognized journalists” in the same way that HUMC won an award for excellence by >a business organization?????? 1. Here are the test scores for HHS for the 2008-09 school year as reported on the school district’s website. I don’t know what else to say on the topic: http://www.hoboken.k12.nj.us/files/2008-2009%20HSPA%20Update.pdf 2. It may or may not be a mistake to reference an article in the Jersey Journal that states that the Hoboken schools excelled. But, reporters for The Jersey Journal do have editorial oversight, professional training, and accountability. I suggest you ask them for a retraction if you feel as if you have credible data to the contrary. In response to DavidsSling who said: You are reporting wrong Scores for 2009 I think it is a grave mistake to turn to the pitiful Jersey Journal for indications of excellence. Are they “recognized journalists” in the same way that HUMC won an award for excellence by a business organization?????? At Hoboken High School, passing rates in language arts/Math fell In 2009 Language arts 2008 81.8 percent to 2009 70.1 percent Fell 11.7% Math 2008 66.2 percent 2009 53.2 percent. Fell 13% Failing to respond to an audit from the past is irresponsible and the rest of the test scores for the other grades are so terrible (Except for Calabro there were 60% drops in scores)… Read more »
poed
Member
poed
I am not quite sure how you have come to the opinion that the current school board is attempting to make the school system appear negative. They are actively attempting to right a ship that had faltered. Our district was on an upward trajectory for many years. During Jack’s reign, Parents were concerned about his lack of focus and the eventual side effects thereof, ie: causing our upward trajectory to falter (3 schools in AYP since he took over- this was unprecedented in recent years). It was unfortunate that his administration opted to spend more than 10 months focusing on non public school students instead of meeting the challenges of the newly administered tests. He was given fair notice that the testing would be altered, particularly in certain grades, and he provided no new supports to assist the public school students regarding these issues nor to assist in furthering their fine academic skills. This is painfully evident in one grade of students who went from 95% passing one year to 32% passing the next. Specific tutoring and enrichment was requested again and again, instead he offered 150k to 2 moms, to further a program (whose Board you now sit on) which addressed an already well served grade (incoming k students). Had Jack focused his attention on his current population and put in positive, well developed supports to assist our wonderfully diverse student population, maybe more of our students would have performed above average. I am grateful that we now have… Read more »
A_Petrosino
Member
A_Petrosino
@poed 1) It is very challenging to address state standards as assessed in mandated testing when you do not have a curriculum aligned with the state standards. With an approved curriculum aligned with state standards, a clear implementation plan and thousands of hrs of professional development, I expect you will see increased test scores during the 2009-2010 school year and outward. I would point readers of ‘411’ to see my letter to the editor in this past week’s Hoboken Reporter (Jan 16). 2) With all due respect, your somewhat convoluted logic connecting lack of tutoring (there was tutoring), the proposed dual language program, and anecdotal test scores leaves me with little hope of a response except for this—in the pilot classrooms where the new curriculum was utilized student test scores were very impressive (well over 85% passing). Also, I’d point you to the recent Jersey Journal article indicating that Hoboken “excelled” in the test scores for 2008-09 (their words, not mine). You can self select individual scores throughout the district to further your point. But, at the end of the day– the Jersey Journal said that the Hoboken School District excelled. This was not the message given at the November Board of Education meeting. Why? Someone must be mistaken. Either it is The Jersey Journal or the people who discussed the data at the November BoE meeting. I would think either a retraction or an explanation is in order. nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2010/01/state_education_scores_are_in.html nj.com/hobokennow/index.ssf/2009/11...boken_schools_superintendent_1.html 3) >I am not quite sure how you have… Read more »
poed
Member
poed
Correction: 3 schools designated as SINI. In response to poed who said: I am not quite sure how you have come to the opinion that the current school board is attempting to make the school system appear negative. They are actively attempting to right a ship that had faltered. Our district was on an upward trajectory for many years. During Jack’s reign, Parents were concerned about his lack of focus and the eventual side effects thereof, ie: causing our upward trajectory to falter (3 schools in AYP since he took over- this was unprecedented in recent years). It was unfortunate that his administration opted to spend more than 10 months focusing on non public school students instead of meeting the challenges of the newly administered tests. He was given fair notice that the testing would be altered, particularly in certain grades, and he provided no new supports to assist the public school students regarding these issues nor to assist in furthering their fine academic skills. This is painfully evident in one grade of students who went from 95% passing one year to 32% passing the next. Specific tutoring and enrichment was requested again and again, instead he offered 150k to 2 moms, to further a program (whose Board you now sit on) which addressed an already well served grade (incoming k students). Had Jack focused his attention on his current population and put in positive, well developed supports to assist our wonderfully diverse student population, maybe more of our students… Read more »
A_Petrosino
Member
A_Petrosino
I was simply pointing readers to the Jersey Journal article that indicated both the Bayonne and Hoboken Schools Districts “Excelled” (their words, not mine). Does *any* news that sounds somewhat positive about what happened in the Hoboken School District between 2007-2009 need to be considered “spin”? Even when it comes from recognized journalists? nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2010/01/state_education_scores_are_in.html Concerning Hoboken High School—March 2009 was the first accurate accounting of it’s junior class. The results of HHS’s general education students are as indicated: Passing math: 62.4% Passing language arts: 82.2%. These scores are noteworthy because, according to the New Jersey Department of Education, HHS made Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) while testing all juniors unlike previous administrations (recall, 10R’s). For readers interested in a more complete explanation including data please visit: http://www.hoboken.k12.nj.us/files/2008-2009%20HSPA%20Update.pdf As for the audit findings—again, certainly some things to be addressed and rectified which I assume were done rather quickly and to everyone’s benefits. Let’s see whether the district actually drops in this year’s QSAC ratings. As I have indicated previously on 411, I don’t believe the audit findings were of a nature to negatively impact our upcoming accountability scores. That’s not to dismiss the findings–but let’s not elevate them past their appropriate level of importance either. I hope this helps to clarify my position. Dr. Anthony Petrosino Assistant to the Superintendent of Schools Hoboken School District 2007-2009 In response to poed who said: Again, with all due respect, this is what you are proud of? “the 2009 standardized testing Tuesday night, and the… Read more »
keenobserver
Member
keenobserver

I tend to disagree with this writer. Hiring Cella was probably one of the worst things Raslowsky did. After she arrived in 2007, she quickly proved to be a bad fit for the school and soon lost the respect of many of the students and parents. Her management of the school was inept, her judgment was poor, and her educational philosophy was far too touchy-feely to be effective. Carter is a smart guy and probably figured out last September that Cella had to go. It took all this time to do it because of all the rules that make it tough to dismiss bad teachers and administrators. The writer has one thing, right, though: Everything said about Markle here is correct, from what I’ve seen. She’s up for re-election this year and if Kids First is smart they’ll keep her off the ticket and find someone who’s not mean-spirited.

A_Petrosino
Member
A_Petrosino
In response to “keenobserver”….who, with every post about education in the Hoboken public schools, convinces me they are not only ill-informed and not objective but actually intend to spread mis-truths and lies….. As Dr. Cella indicated in her resignation letter, “We worked hard to accomplish our goals and to establish solid programs building on the strengths of the past as we moved to the future.” During her two and a half years at Hoboken High School, Dr. Cella built on past strengths and expanded on that foundation to be awarded two consecutive Bronze Awards by US News and World Report for recognized excellence in New Jersey High Schools. Additionally, Hoboken High School was designated the second most improved high school in the state by New Jersey Monthly. These were unsolicited awards based on objective and mandatory data reported to the State. She initiated the Columbia Writing Project (a collaboration with Columbia University), a brand new Apple Computer Lab and expanded it’s PC lab, oversaw a major expansion of the media arts, supported the State recognized Theater Arts program and actively participated in the curriculum revision process of the district. Moreover, with Dr. Cella’s leadership a 9th grade induction support system for incoming freshmen was established as well as faculty “study groups” where she oversaw internal professional development of her fine staff. This year, Hoboken High School made “AYP”- an official designation indicating “adequate yearly progress”- a rigorous standard set by the State. More than all this, Dr. Cella brought a… Read more »
xyzpdq
Member
xyzpdq

USC? I heard she left to run her family’s chocolate covered cherry company. Seriously though, thanks to the writer for sharing their perspective. I feel like I’ve learned something today.

9
Member

She left Hoboken to go coach USC.

wpDiscuz