The principal of Maugham Primary School in Tenafly and the teacher who commissioned a project in which a fifth-grader spoke of Hitler’s “accomplishments” have been put on administrative leave.
Principal Jennifer Ferrara, principal of the school for eight years, and the teacher will remain on leave pending the conclusion of the investigation and the actions recommended by the Board of Education.
Public records show Ferrara has been in the district since 2001 and earns a salary of $ 164,664. The teacher has not been identified by Superintendent Shauna DeMarco.
The superintendent said in a letter that the district’s policy on teaching “difficult and sensitive material” is meant to involve parents, which was not followed in this case.
“Our initial review indicates that the curriculum and learning standards were not implemented appropriately and that an attempt to individualize the project resulted in the student receiving the wrong teaching from the part of the teacher. Posting of the resulting project was offensive and inappropriate and directly violated school board policies, ”DeMarco said.
As the “accomplishments” were displayed in a hallway, DeMarco said some members of the school had expressed “concern” for Ferrara.
She said the policies only work when applied and the investigation will seek to understand why they were not followed with this mission.
“We appreciate the feedback we’ve heard from parents, teachers, religious and cultural leaders, and many other affected Tenafly residents,” DeMarco said. “I hope this survey demonstrates how seriously we take what happened and our commitment to creating a safe and comfortable environment for our children to experience the world.”
DeMarco said the student and his family have been “in turmoil” and the incident has caused pain in the Jewish community at a time when cases of anti-Semitism are on the rise.
Mayor Mark Zinna and several Jewish organizations defended the student in a joint statement released Thursday.
“We are convinced that this family had no intention of harming or offending anyone and should not be blamed or held responsible for the events at the school,” they said.
The Tenafly school board scheduled a meeting for Monday, but the agenda was not released early Friday afternoon.
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