Home School News Parents’ Outcry Prompts Brick BOE to Postpone Transfer of Principal

Parents’ Outcry Prompts Brick BOE to Postpone Transfer of Principal



Thomas Gialanella (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Thomas Gialanella (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Facing hot opposition from parents, the Brick Township Board of Education voted Thursday night to table a proposal to transfer principal Dr. John Billen to Veterans Elementary School from Midstreams Elementary School.

Numerous parents implored the board to keep Billen in his current position as principal of Midstreams, despite the fact that Interim Schools Superintendent Thomas Gialanella recommended the transfer to Veterans as one of a number of administrative transfers.


Francine Banick, a Coolidge Drive resident and parent of two children, including one now at Midstreams, beseeched the board, prior to their vote to table, to keep Billen at Midstreams. She said Billen has been instrumental in inspiring student success, parental involvement and high test scores.

To Gialanella, who was appointed interim superintendent in February, she said, “I don’t think five months in our district affords you the best judgment to make this recommendation.”

Gialanella said he makes his recommendations based on what is best for all the students in the entire district.

After the meeting, he declined to explain why he had not recommended promoting Colleen Kerr from assistant principal at Veterans to principal there. He said he did not want to “evaluate” any staff members publicly. He also said he hoped the board would make a decision on the matter at the next regular meeting on July 28.

Now that the board has tabled the vote, it can ignore it indefinitely, bring it up again at a future meeting or proposal an alternate plan.

The board also tabled a motion to promote Kerr to Midstreams principal because after tabling the motion to transfer Billen out of that position, they had to postpone promoting Kerr into it.

The vote to table the proposal to transfer Billen was not unanimous. Board Member Victoria Pakala voted against it and board member Sharon Cantillo abstained, saying she has a niece who teaches in the district.

When asked after the meeting why she voted against tabling, Pakala said she had served on the Human Resources Committee where she felt Gialanella kept her and committee members apprised of all the factors that went into his recommendations.

“I have confidence in the superintendent’s recommendations,” she said.

A number of personnel changes precipitated the proposal to transfer Billen. For example, Pakala explained, Brick Memorial High School Principal Jennifer Joseph is leaving her position to work as an administrator in the Neptune school district.

Gialanella’s position as interim superintendent was renewed in a separate vote at the meeting. He earns $682 per day for 260 days (the number of days are dictated by state statute, Gialanella said), bringing the total to $177,320.

Melissa Fornoro, a Midwood mother of three young children, including two at Midstreams, was one of many parents who raved about Billen and pressed the board to leave him where he is. She hinted that there is a problem at Veterans that Gialanella wants Billen to fix.

“If Dr. Gialanella, who makes over $600 a day can’t fix these problems, what are we paying him for?” she asked, getting one of the evening’s many rounds of applause.

Chatham Carter, who just graduated from Midstreams, also spoke in favor of Billen, who encouraged her as she started and became captain of a school book club.

“He made me feel like I could do anything,” she said. “He asked me to come back and help with the book club next year, which I’m super excited about. Please don’t move him to a different school. Use him as an example, but don’t move him away.”

  • KaayC

    I wonder if Gialanella is also collecting a pension while on salary as so many of these “interim supts” do, in essence double dipping. When that occurs, I think it is the fault of the game, not the player.

  • Janet

    Dr. Billen is the voice of reason in a district rife with denial and obstructionism. I recall that he, along with other members of the child study team, attended an IEP meeting for our child. We requested textured tape on the underside of her desk, which is known to provide sensory input and help the student concentrate when the child runs their fingers over it – it’s an inexpensive “fix”, it doesn’t draw attention to the child as being different and it works. Anyway, the other members of the child study team denied the request. Dr. Billen agreed with us. He left the meeting, got some tape from the O.T. room and took care of it himself. There are many other examples – that one just sticks in my mind. He’s a caring “shepherd” for our children. We’re lucky to have him and I hope he is allowed to stay at Midstreams.

    • Jen

      I work in the school and you are so right. He goes above and beyond for all the students as well as the staff. He makes the environment so that the students want to do well as well as the staff. We’re all involved and love him and the students! He’s the best there is and I’ve worked with many principals in my career in Brick.

    • KaayC

      Such a common sense approach. No wonder he is well liked.

  • Joseph Woolston Brick

    When are these school board members going to realize that they are employees of the people of Brick who are their employers and will do what the majority of their employers want? If the majority of the parents of Midstreams School want their Principal maintained there, then that’s it, done, over! The only way to show these school board members that we mean business, is to get rid of the trouble makers the next time school board elections come around. The people of Brick are tired of the politics that goes on within the school board and the schools themselves.

    • J W

      I hate to agree with Frank. This a principle of good administration- move around excellent managers once they’ve achieved everything they can. Build a better team elsewhere. The only politics going on is the axe you’re grinding.

  • Frank Rizzo

    Maybe thia guy wanted this transfer….who are these parents to get in the way of his desired transfer and future career goals.

    • Francine

      These parents went in with their i’s dotted and t’s crossed. It would be ignorant and remiss to obstruct a Principal from his intended and desired career path. Respectfully, This was not the case. Had it been, your point would be correct.

  • Chief Wahoo

    I say he should just put his daughter in as the principal. Although the boys at Veterans might not like the game touch the hiney or may be a bit too old for her taste …. But hey , it’s Bricktucky, she would fit right in TO THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH.

    • Donald Trump for President

      You have no mercy for the “takers”.

  • meok1521

    I like how that parent thinks that Gialanella doesn’t have enough judgment to make the decision. And she does???? If he’s so great, why does Midstreams have some special right to him? People need to get over it. It’s not a life and death situation, who your kid’s principal is. I haven’t once spoken to my kid’s principal and he’s starting 4th grade. Doesn’t make her a bad one, I just don’t get why it’s this huge deal.

    • Katyc

      Yes she does! She has worked closely with him on many different occasions. The fact that you haven’t ONCE spoken to your child’s principal in 3 plus years speaks volumes of your involvement with your child’s school or lack thereof. If your child went to Midstreams you’d understand why it’s such a huge deal.

      • meok1521

        He’s a superintendent for a reason. She isn’t. And excuse me for not being on the PTA, because I assume that’s what you’re implying. I’m a full time working mom who manages my kids travel sports team in my “free time”. I think I have enough on my plate. But thanks for passing judgment. My kid is an A student with zero behavior issues or other issues in the school. Please tell me why would I need to speak with the principal?

      • meok1521

        I’m so done with PTA/stay at home moms who think working moms are lazy for not being “involved” at school.

      • Katyc

        The past has proved (Walter Uszenski= Criminal) that just because someone is the superintendent doesn’t necessarily mean they are qualified or know/want what is best for our schools/children. And PS clearly you are the one passing judgement as I and Francine both work.

      • meok1521

        Something tells me that you have more time on your hands than I do. That’s all I’ll say.

      • Katyc

        That MUST be it.

      • NC

        dont you have a full time job as well with 2 kids that have after school commitments?? ummmm yeah you do. and PTO president has a full time job. yeah she does… Not knowing your principle is not necessarily a bad behavioral situation I think…what do you say? Many of our students have been given awards for A’s and other wonder school academics. Maybe meet your principle at school pto meeting once a year I think. or any fun school PTO events? like fall festival or jingle bell walk or chorus concert or school play or book fair night school fundraiser….anything? oh wait that’s because may even not every school does this for their kids. we do. and not every parent makes every event but there isn’t one person that does not know our principle. that’s I would bet my life on!

      • meok1521

        Your school isn’t better than Vets. Vets does all those things too. I don’t need to pow wow with the principal in order to participate in them. We go if he wants to, which usually he doesn’t because he’s more into sports than any of that stuff. And if we do go, the principal is there but I don’t need to talk to her.

    • disqus_PFjxUfU2Z4

      And you don’t see a problem with that?! I’ve sat down with Dr.Billen during iep and 504 meetings.
      He’s involve and he cares.
      We are on our fourth year in. There have been 3 vice principals. Temporary or what have you. 3…. Billen has been the constant for these kids.
      The kids respect him. How often does your kid come home and proudly say i got a chance to win lunch with the principal?
      It’s just a lunch. But because it is Dr.Billen, it’s a big deal for these kids.

      • meok1521

        I don’t see any problem with it, because I have no need to speak to the principal. My son doesn’t require any special attention. I’m sure our principal speaks to other parents who need to speak to her, I don’t know. But my kid goes to school every day with no behavioral or academic issues, so WHY would I need to have personal interaction with the principal???? And our school does breakfast with the principal for student of the month for each class. My kid has gotten to do it and I’m sure it’s very nice.

    • NC

      and you just proved our point ….4th grade and beverage once talk to your principle. that’s sad

      • Peggy

        Can’t spell principal…now that’s sad

      • NC

        ur right I spelled it wrong. my mistake. I spell alot wrong on my phone and I can’t catch them all. or maybe my phone don’t catch them. what’s sad is relying on a phone to spell it. not sad….just the normal world we are with technology. most times I don’t even check and my typing looks like I drank a few. that’s reply is really just title for rat and know it. so stop being given a baby now

      • Hydra Trump

        “a lot!” HA!

      • KaayC

        And “you’re” … And “doesn’t”
        Someone needs extra help after school.

      • meok1521

        Peggy isn’t the one who referenced the fourth grader, I was. You don’t even know who you’re replying to.

  • Donald Trump for President


  • NC

    I am parent of 2 children at this school….and although I couldn’t be there last night I too would love to have him stay…..if he wants….If he truly wants to go he will and he is the type of man that would tell us so. If he wants to go then I personally wish him good luck and alot of people I know will too. But if it not, then this was the one time, that our very supportive Midstreams family, had any chance to help. So they did. This is not a promotion really. its moving from principle at one school to another down the road. If its not moving his career up anywhere then why not let him stay if he wants to. it should be his choice. Not a motion thats decided by others sitting on a panel. There is not stopping the BOE if they really want to move him, but we are allowed to speak and make it known in suppprt, that we don’t want him to go. He did alot for our kids and of course we want him to stay. Why would any of us throw in the towel so easy. We know Dr Billed more then most people in this comment board and we know what we would like to happen. If it doesnt….then it doesn’t. I have seen more people fight over using a dam coupon in a store or a happy meal with the wrong toy. This is something way more important and it should be inspiring to other parents that we feel this strongly fot our principle. Hopefully he stays but if cannot, for those that get him he will be a great asset.