.

Woodside Principal Rotante Resigns

Former High Mountain Road School Principal Helen Attenello will step in as interim principal while Franklin Lakes School District searches for a fulltime replacement

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.

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.

Shirley O'Reilly August 14, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Mr. Rotante, for nine years you served our schools, our community and most importantly our children. We are grateful for the amount of time and effort that you put forth each and every day. Your compassion and your ability to make every child and parent feel special will be sorely missed, Woodside has been a part of our home for nine years, and without you there will be a void. Thank you - Thank you - Thank you for all that you have done for our children - you deserve the world for your dedication - we respect your decision but we do not have to like it, and we are not pleased that it came to this for you, for your family or for ours.
Mary Calvano August 16, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Tenure protects from firing. If coercion story is true than Mr. Rotante should waive his right to privacy so we get both sides of the story - we be can't be expected to believe a one sided story. I have heard the word "witch hunt" but tenure would protect against almost anything.
Sam Moorees August 16, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Mary - No secret that you drank the kool aid. Pretty sure you made a batch or two for them.
Lauren Faustini August 16, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Beautifully said Shirley! Mr Rotante will be missed at Woodside. He made everyday special for all our children. Knowing everyone's name and interest, it was always a warm and nurturing environment.
Carolyn Reitz August 22, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Speculation on this issue is just that...only Mr. Rotante and the Board of Education have access to all of the facts in this case. Take the time to educate yourself on tenure laws and the process instead of rushing to judgement on anyone's behalf.
Thomas Madison February 02, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Posting this on all articles about Rotante: Unfortunately there is not a comment section for the online villadome times. So I'm expressing my comments here where I know enough people will read it. FYI Mr. Meisner, only a handful of parents want Rotante back at Woodside. The intelligent majority are extremely happy without him!! We all moved on and realize how a school should be managed! For the comment about the election... Only one NEW BOE member would vote him back. The other two intelligent college educated NEW board members could careless about him! Move on!
Aristotle May 09, 2013 at 01:26 AM
Hi everyone. I drink a lot. If you ever see my posts I'm a bit crazy. It's because I'm always drunk. I'm also a complete fool! Have a good day.

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