Thursday, June 8, 2017


Thomas Ficarra
Dr. Thomas Ficarra officially joined the South Orange Maplewood School District on Wednesday as interim superintendent for up to a year.

The board voted, 8-0, with Board Member Johanna Wright absent, to appoint Ficarra, a 40-year veteran of several New Jersey school districts, to serve as acting superintendent beginning Aug. 1. Wright said she had a previous commitment, noting the meeting was not scheduled until Monday.

Ficarra replaces John Ramos, who announced his resignation last month effective in mid-August.

Ficarra's appointment can extend to June 30, 2018 while the district searches for a permanent replacement. The resolution approved last night to appoint him reveals that his salary will be based on a $196,584 annual stipend.

During a 10-minute statement to the board, Ficarra praised the district's diversity, noting, "it is a community where people chose diversity, and it was a conscious choice ... to be with people who are not exactly like them." 

He also stated that his view of education is "connectiveness," later adding that the district can "only be successful if its relationships are healthy."

See the entire statement below:

School Board President Elizabeth Baker also detailed the process that went into choosing Ficarra. See that below:

Baker did not mention the lawsuit against one of Ficarra's former employers, the Morris School District, by the parent of a student who killed himelf as the result of bullying. Ficarra, who was superintendent in Morris at the time, was among several administrators named as a defendant in the suit.

Asked after the meeting about the case, Baker said the board was aware of it, but did not believe it was a reason to disqualify Ficarra given his overwhelmingly positive attributes. She added, "you can't serve in education for 40 years without being named in a lawsuit."

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