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Terminated search could mean $220K for Atlantic City’s retiring schools superintendent

A terminated $25,000 superintendent search could mean a one-year contract extension for the retiring head of Atlantic City’s school district.
A public hearing set for Monday’s Board of Education meeting looks to keep Superintendent Barry Caldwell on another year at $220,000.
It is the first time a one-year extension has been made public. The board previously voted to keep Caldwell on monthly while a new superintendent search is conducted. No monetary amount was mentioned in those previous votes.
But the item indicates the Atlantic County executive superintendent approved the move Thursday.
Executive County Superintendent Robert Bumpas could not be immediately reached for comment.
The salary is 56 percent more than the mayor’s salary, which many complained about when it was raised from $103,000 to $141,000.
The search for a new superintendent has been a muddled one.
Five of the board’s current members cannot be involved due to family members working for the school district.
Then, earlier this year, questions arose because the search committee included Farook Hossain, a board member whose residency was questioned by the board solicitor, Tracy Riley.
That was after Caldwell ordered her to report Hossain to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, alleging his children were receiving free lunch based upon false information.
Riley never revealed how the investigation began, instead stating at a public meeting that she learned about an investigation from the Prosecutor’s Office.
Riley then banned Hossain’s vote from being counted, until a judge ruled against her and reinstated Hossain’s voting privileges. The board has moved to have him removed, which is pending.
It was not fully clear why the superintendent search was ended and restarted, or where it stands now.
Neither Riley nor Board of Education President Shay Steele has responded to questions about it.
Steele is one of the five conflicted members who could only vote on the search under the Doctrine of Necessity, which allows conflicted members to vote only on specific parts of an issue in order for the board to have a quorum.
Both Steele’s wife and his father are district employees.
But Steele has been involved beyond the vote, BreakingAC has confirmed.
In a letter dated April 20, 2021, Steele sent out a letter to a representative of the NAACP, requesting assistance “with the upcoming superintendent search.”
But at that time, the vote still had not been made to start a new search, and — under the Doctrine — Steele is to have no involvement beyond that vote.
Steele responded with, “No comment.”
Neither the state monitor, the state Department of Education nor the State Ethics Commission would return numerous requests seeking comment on the issue.
The personnel item is not on Monday’s regular agenda, which is an updated version of the June 15 meeting that was canceled due to insufficient notice.
Instead, it’s listed in a separate file online as “Public Hearing Agenda 6/28/2021.”
Caldwell, who lives in Galloway Township, has been superintendent since 2017. He has no background in education.

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