Part II: Speaking Up For Mr. C.

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Published: January 10, 2011 @ 12:00 PM EDT
Part II: Speaking Up For Mr. C. thumbnail

If Mr. Costanzo were to approach the BOE by himself, it might have come across as someone looking for glory or ego. That was not the case. The crowd of parents, teachers, principals, and students sitting behind him while he was at the podium spoke volumes as to how important the sign was, not for Mr. C. but, for the community.

“If you ever looked up the word humble,” Bob Milici stated during his  turn at the podium, “You would see Charlie’s name right there.”

Mr. Milici, as well as others, spoke on how much Charles Costanzo meant to them and how the unannounced removal of his name from the Aldene School sign was a ‘slap in the face’.

Mr. Milici’s support of Mr. C. addressed the comment made by Roseann Rinaldi, the Board President, that there was no mention of grandfathering in signs in the relevant policy, “99% of policies enacted almost always have a grandfather clause. There’s not reason why that sign should not be restored with the name of Charles Costanzo.”

Another resident, Jacob Magiera, asked if the issue with the sign had to do with a municipal ordinance prohibiting signs of certain dimensions.

Anthony Sciarrillo, the Board Attorney, stated the issue had nothing to do with the municipality but BOE policy and intent. Mr. Sciarrillo, who was not part of the policy committee when the policy was adopted and stated that Tuesday was the first time he heard of or read the policy, addressed the question, “The policy appears to be put in place so that in each school in the community – if someone serves in that school for a particular period of time or serves the district for a particular period of time and they retire as the principal of that building that the sign will be dedicated to them for a period of five years.”

In explaining the policy, Mr. Sciarrillo continued, “It then says, upon the completion of the five years, with the consent of the superintendent, a commemorative ceremony will take place, which I assume is going to happen here if the policy stays the way it does, at which time a permanent plaque will be placed in the building on behalf of that retiring individual.”

The Board Attorney stated that he believed that the purpose of the policy was to give following generations the opportunity to honor a principal who is retiring under a particular set of circumstances – 25 years of service, 10 years as a principal of that building.

Linda Green, resident and teacher at Aldene, spoke on behalf of the teachers of the school. She stated that no plaque was put up in the school after Mr. Costanzo’s name was removed from the sign outside during the summer of 2010.

“Mr. C. ran the Aldene School as if it were a family,” Mrs. Green stated while speaking before the Board, “He was kind, respectful, professional, and always placed the needs of his students and staff first.”

Mrs. Green wondered aloud what kind of message the unceremonious removal of Mr. Costanzo’s name sent to the community, “When we honor someone who has given so much to our district, do we forget and take it back after five years? It is not only inappropriate and unjustified, but this action does not promote the Roselle Park we boast or brag about.”

She echoed the sentiment of others in her closing comments, “We are professionally and politely requesting that Mr. Costanzo’s name be put back on the sign next to the motto he pioneered as it was meant to be.”

Clare Bulger stated she felt that the painting over of Mr. Constanzo’s name was equivalent to a defacement of it. She commented on the lack of inclusion of the community with regard to the action taken by the Board, “If you put the policy in place, we should have been informed so that before you took his name off the sign… we would have taken care of something else so that it wouldn’t just be that slap in the face where it’s just painted over and it does not look very nice.”

Even those who came to the meeting, like Linda Greer, who came for a different reason, commented on the actions taken by the Board, “I think it was not a nice thing to paint it over without even notifying him.”

The Board voted to have the policy reviewed by the Policy Committee. Patrick Spagnoletti asked the BOE Attorney what a review meant. Mr. Sciarrillo stated that there were several recommendations which would include follow the policy as it currently reads, suspend the policy temporarily, or amend the policy.

The Policy (1340) is listed below in its entirety for review. Anyone with questions and comments can contact the Board Of Education at www.rpsd.org or via phone at (908) 245-1197.