Do Not Renew Superintendent Fano's Contract
Do Not Renew Superintendent Fano's Contract
To the Randolph Board of Education Members:
June 30, 2024, marks the end of Superintendent of Schools Jennifer A. Fano’s current contract. Since signing her initial three-year contract in April 2017, the Randolph Township Board of Education has amended and revised Superintendent Fano’s contract four times -- each time without any input from the community. With Superintendent Fano’s contract expiring in a little over 24 months, you may be already planning to amend or extend the contract well ahead of schedule without any community input.
Therefore, I am writing as a citizen of Randolph Township, New Jersey to demand that the members of the Randolph Board of Education NOT commence any contract amendment or renewal discussions, nor to take any other action to renew, extend or change the terms and conditions of the contract of Superintendent of Schools Jennifer A. Fano without first taking all the following actions:
- Holding well-publicized Town Hall Meetings with the citizens of Randolph to obtain feedback to determine if it is time for a change in Superintendents.
- Conducting an anonymous third-party survey of parents, students, and staff to seek input as to what we believe Superintendent Fano’s strengths, weaknesses and areas of improvement are; and
- Publishing the results from the survey and all verbatim comments from the Town Halls with no censorship or editing.
Currently, there is discontent from the Randolph Learning Community that the Randolph Board of Education is aware of, yet has consistently failed to address, several concerns and shortcomings with regard to the performance of Superintendent Fano. These include:
- Creating a toxic work environment, rife with multiple reports of retaliation by staff and parents, while showing favoritism towards her supporters.
- Refusing to listen to or address parent and faculty concerns.
- A questionable ability to create a safe and positive learning environment for all students and staff.
- Deteriorating rankings and increased costs for our schools, especially at a time when enrollment has continued a downward trend; and
- Excessive bonus payments and salary increases awarded to Superintendent Fano in the complete absence of any publicly defined or proven goals.
Regarding the last point, Superintendent Fano’s base pay has increased almost 40% since you first appointed her as permanent Superintendent of Schools, rising from $167,000 to more than $230,000. Yet, during the same period of time, Ms. Fano’s actions and poor judgment have created a variety of issues and problems which brought a negative light to our district, including:
- The resignation of several beloved members of our award-winning music program resigned following changes to the program implemented by Ms. Fano, with no meaningful effort made to keep them.
- Unnecessarily sending approximately 80 students for alcohol blood testing, flooding local emergency rooms, after an incident at a football game, which led to Superintendent Fano issuing a public apology. The unnecessary medical tests cost the district tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars reimbursing parents and brought negative national media coverage.
- A very public screaming match with the high school principal and teacher’s union president witnessed by several people, followed by a Vote of Non-Confidence by the Staff, and a parent petition demanding Superintendent Fano’s resignation less than one year after her appointment as permanent Superintendent of Schools.
- A pattern of rigid management, a lack of creative thinking, planning and foresight, and a refusal to recognize in early 2020 that a COVID-19-caused shutdown would last any longer than two weeks, resulting in numerous revisions to asynchronous and synchronous learning plans; Superintendent Fano refused to contact State officials for further guidance with respect to graduation planning (unlike her fellow Superintendents), leading parents and students to contact the Governor themselves and the Governor announcing when an update would be given .
- Numerous students bullied on social media and parents not notified, despite New Jersey HIB laws requiring such notification.
- Authorized the spending of more than $100,000 to refurbish Central Office during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and the switch to remote and hybrid learning (including $5,000 on her own office), while refusing to purchase PPE and Plexiglas for students or considering reopening the schools on a full-time basis even though districts around Randolph had made significant progress on their reopening plans.
- Stood by silently while the Board of Education changed the name of Columbus Day on the district calendar, and then removed all holiday names, leading to thousands of media stories with national and international coverage, and a bipartisan group of both State and local politicians condemning the district’s actions.
- Her actions related to elementary school events, sports and the construction of the new Field House resulted in widespread protests of exclusion and discrimination by parents based on populations of schools and activities allowed and disallowed.
In just 15 months, three of six principals, three of seven vice principals and several key administrators -- including the newly hired Dean of Students, the director of Human Resources, the assistant business manager, and the Visual and Performing Arts supervisor -- have resigned. In the four and a half years that Superintendent Fano has held her position on a permanent basis, more than 250 staff members have resigned. This turnover rate is staggering and unacceptable.
While the above incidents should speak for themselves as to why the citizens of Randolph deserve a more direct say in the leadership of their schools at this time, the numbers from the New Jersey Department of Education Taxpayers’ Guide to Education spending provide additional proof as to the issues our Board of Education has turned a blind eye to under Superintendent Fano’s watch:
- Cost per student has increased from $20,104 (2017) to $22,997 (2020), yet enrollment has decreased.
- Total Administration costs per student increased by 11%, from $1,802 (2017) to $2,010 (2020).
It is time for the parents, taxpayers, citizens, and staff of Randolph to have a say in the leadership of our schools BEFORE any contract renewal discussions with Superintendent Fano take place. I implore the members of the Board of Education to take NO action of any nature regarding Superintendent Fano’s contract without first undertaking an extensive effort to secure input from the community.