A Franklin Lakes principal who unexpectedly "resigned" last August is going on the offensive to get his job back.
A lawsuit was filed with Bergen County Superior Court on Friday, Oct. 26, on behalf of former Woodside Avenue School Principal Dominick Rotante, who stepped down abruptly just weeks before the start of the school year in August.
In a statement released Sunday, Rotante said the end of his eight year career in Franklin Lakes was the result of a personal vendetta waged against him by Superintendent of Schools Frank Romano, who was hired by the school district in 2010.
“I achieved a record of excellence, one that I’m very proud of and one that was impeccable until the day Mr. Romano arrived with an agenda that included getting rid of me,” Rotante wrote.
Rotante believes Romano wanted sought to oust him because Rotante was a member of a previous hiring committee that had input into Romano’s failed attempt to become curriculum director years before he was offered the superintendent position the Franklin Lakes Board of Education.
“Mr. Romano did not inform the new board of his prior failed candidacy when he applied for the superintendent’s position but I did because I felt it was pertinent information. Clearly, the superintendent doesn’t see it that way,” Rotante wrote.
Rotante is seeking to void the separation agreements and obtain reinstatement with the Franklin Lakes School District.
Romano reached for comment Monday morning refused to answer any questions, but said, "The entirety of the November 4, 2012, press release is completely false."
The Franklin Lakes Board of Education granted Rotante, principal at Woodside since 2004, a request for a ten-month personal leave to "tend to family matters" and accepted his resignation, School Superintendent Frank Romano said in August.
Romano spoke highly of Rotante back in August, but refused to go into details regarding the principal's sudden resignation.
In his initial statement, Romano said that parents may be "frustrated over the information that they can’t have."
Rotante's Florham Park-based Attorney Rich Meisner confirmed on Monday that the suit had been filed with Bergen County Superior Court.
A copy of the separation agreement between the Franklin Lakes Board of Education and Rotante, obtained by Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Patch confirmed that both parties had hired attorneys during the initial process, and that Rotante would foreit all tenure and seniority and never work for the Franklin Lakes School District again.
The separation agreement is attached to this story.
Meisner said that the premise on which the separation agreement was based proved to be false, but wouldn't provide further details.
At the heart of the controversy is a sealed grievance filed by the Franklin Lakes Education Association earlier this year.
An OPRA request for the documentation regarding the grievance was denied, but Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Patch obtained a copy of a June 29 letter allegedly sent to Woodside Avenue teachers by FLEA President Donna Luciano.
The letter, which is attatched to this story, has had its letterhead removed by the providing party, citing fear of reprisal by school administration.
In the letter details of the grievance are noted.
"FLEA filed a grievance against Dominick on Monday," the letter states. "Some of the complaints against him are not keeping appointments, yelling and intimidation of staff, and not adhering to the district's policies on observations and evaluations."
Previous attempts to contact Luciano have gone unanswered.
Stay with Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Patch for more on this breaking story.
Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.