Woodside Avenue School Principal Dominick Rotante stepped down abruptly just weeks before the start of the school year, the Franklin Lakes School District announced Tuesday.
The Franklin Lakes Board of Education granted Rotante, principal at the school since 2004, a request for a ten-month personal leave to tend to family matters and accepted his resignation, which will become effective at the conclusion of his leave on June 30, 2013, School Superintendent Frank Romano said Tuesday.
Retiring High Mountain Road Principal Helen Attenello would step in as interim principal until a replacement could be found, the superintendent said.
"Please know that Mr. Rotante and the Board of Education came to this decision after giving deep consideration to what would be in the best interest of Mr. Rotante, his family, and the entire Woodside community," Romano wrote in a release Tuesday.
Rotante did not respond to emails requesting comment on his resignation.
"Experience tells me that Mr. Rotante’s departure will evoke a variety of emotions and responses — some feeling sadness or loss, some frustrated over the information that they can’t have, some wanting to understand the transition that is to come," Romano said.
Romano, reached for comment Tuesday evening, said that neither he nor the board of education would disclose any of the background on the issues surrounding Rotante's resignation, which occurred just weeks from the start of the 2012-13 school year.
"He loved the kids, he loves working with children ... thats undeniable," Romano said. "The board wishes him well and I wish him well."
Rotante would receive the compensation he was receiving prior to his resignation — including salary and benefits — through June 30, 2013; and Attenello would receive the same compensation she received as principal at High Mountain Road, prorated for the next four months, Romano said.
Rotante's salary is $139,290 and Attenello's salary is $165,895, according to Romano.
In the press release, Romano wrote that parents would be kept informed and included where appropriate in an effort to ensure a successful transition and maintain a stable and familiar environment for the children and families of Woodside Avenue School.
"During his tenure in Franklin Lakes, Mr. Rotante showed a passion and genuine concern for children. On behalf of the Board, the Administration, and myself, I extend sincerest wishes for personal and professional wellbeing to Mr. Rotante and his family."
The transition at Woodside Avenue School would be aided by Attenello, a "trusted" and "seasoned" former principal, Romano said.
Attenello has agreed to stay employed with the district until December 31, 2012, assuming the role of acting principal, according to Romano.
"Together with administrators, faculty, staff, and the extended community, Mrs. Attenello will continue to provide the children with a nurturing and exciting learning environment. Certainly, she will have my full support as well as the Board’s," he said.
Attenello was by fourth grade Teacher Jaclyn Bajzath.
Romano said that a search for a proper replacement for Rotante would begin in the fall, with his replacement likely taking over on July 1, 2013.
The district is unclear as to who will be at the helm at Woodside after Attenello's delayed retirement takes place at the end of the year.
"In the interim, we will explore our options in an effort to find the best bridge from January through June. Having Mrs. Attenello continue on our administrative team during these next four months leaves me confident that we will find the best solution," Romano said.
Romano stressed that the search for a Woodside principal will be comprehensive and include parents, administrators, teachers, support staff, and Franklin Lakes Board of Education members.
Stay with Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Patch for more on this developing story.
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