Inside Ocean County Government

Little Egg Harbor

OPINION: Little Egg Superintendent McCooley Should Practice Humility

Melissa McCooley (Photo: Little Egg Harbor Schools)

TO THE EDITOR: I attended the LEH school board meeting on Monday, August 21, 2017. There seemed to be a large turnout, due in part to some disagreements among residents concerning the superintendent’s salary increase.

The board provided evidence that her salary was in line with other districts of the same size. She does fall within the state’s guidelines, so I would only object if her salary was increased again through bonuses. There was an issue raised at the meeting with the Sandpaper reporter about a previous article concerning staff cuts. This I believe is a question of semantics, whether they were terminated, laid off, retired, or resigned, or how it is classified. If their positions were not filled, they were eliminated. Another issue that caught my attention was the matter of the school’s Facebook page. I don’t think notices regarding the school should be posted on Facebook because not everyone is on Facebook. Also, there was a problem with people posting what the superintendent deemed as libel or slanderous remarks. Facebook is a social media platform, unless there were comments threatening physical harm of some sort, I don’t believe you can limit what people post, and there is no requirement that you have to allow a public comment section.

I was dismayed to hear the school superintendent state that people’s IP addresses were going to be traced and she was filing a lawsuit against them. I hope our tax dollars are not going for this lawsuit, in a recent Supreme Court case, the court ruled, “A School Superintendent is considered a public official and allegedly defamatory statements about that official are judged by a different standard”. The rest of the meeting was pretty much filled with the superintendent’s accomplishments/job description, and praise from various sources.

Melissa McCooley (Photo: Little Egg Harbor Schools)

Also the fact that she has an “open door” policy was widely extolled, although I wondered why, thinking that was part of the job. I did contact Melissa on 2 separate occasions. One was regarding the report card change, when that was implemented a large number of parents contacted Melissa through various means, so much so she called a special meeting. The take away from that meeting was that she would look into a “hybrid” report card, combining the new more detailed report card with a standard grade. That was a year ago, we haven’t heard anything since. My second encounter was a private meeting regarding school bus safety, and the fact that 1/2 the school’s population is driving their children. This meeting took me 4 attempts with physically visiting her office to get an appointment. At that meeting I was told, it was grandparents driving children from their homes (probably true in some cases but not all), or children who had doctor appointments, (probably again true in some cases) but I was speaking of children being driven every day not for an occasional appointment. Then I was told there was no money in the budget for the bus chaperones I was suggesting, so that was the end of that meeting. I joined the ranks of parents driving because of numerous bus incidents, All in all the meeting went smoothly, although I did notice a police officer there and wondered if that was standard for school board meetings.

I think it would greatly benefit Melissa and her relations with the general public if she practiced a certain degree of humility in the future.


Kate Goode

Little Egg Harbor

Liked it? Take a second to support Ocean County Politics on Patreon!