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Community sets up GoFundMe account for fired Princeton High School principal

A GoFundMe account has raised more than $8,285 to pay for possible litigation by former Princeton High School Principal Frank Chmiel, who was fired March 17.

The fund was established on Chmiel’s behalf “to help him protect his legal rights and stellar educational reputation,” according to the Principal Chmiel Legal Defense and Board of Education Recall Fund.

The GoFundMe campaign has a $25,000 fundraising goal. It was established March 18.

Chmiel was fired by Superintendent Carol Kelley on allegedly “spurious grounds,” the GoFundMe account stated. She allegedly attempted to remove Chmiel last year, but relented after a public outcry. His contract was renewed.

Within hours after his dismissal March 17, a Change.org petition was created to protest school district officials’ actions. The online petition has been signed by close to 2,500 people.

The Principal Chmiel Legal Defense and Board of Education Recall Fund alleged that Kelley and the school board “are not following the mandate of those they purport to serve,” citing the outpouring of public support for Chmiel.

In a March 19 letter to parents, students and staff, the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education acknowledged that it had received numerous inquiries regarding Chmiel’s status since he was fired March 17.

The school board said the lack of information in the March 17 letter announcing Chmiel’s dismissal was frustrating, but the board is “unfortunately limited in what (it) can say by New Jersey’s Public Open Records Act and the privacy rights held by public employees.”

“We know that changes in leadership during the school year are difficult, but please know that whenever these occur, the board and the administration always engage in a lengthy, deliberative process,” the school board said.

The school board considers the impact of those changes and discusses them with the affected employees, as well as their legal representatives, the board said in its March 19 letter.

“The Board unanimously supported, and unanimously supports, the Superintendent and the difficult decisions that needed to be made. Absent a public employee providing the Board with a written waiver of his or her private rights, the Board cannot say more,” according to the letter.

Meanwhile, the GoFundMe account stated that an attorney may be asked to evaluate the prospects of a school board recall, “given (the school board is) tone deaf or simply chooses to ignore key community input from stakeholders.”

“They have blindly followed the Superintendent, with no real consideration of the detrimental changes she wishes to make to our school district, most especially in her firing of Frank,” the GoFundMe account alleged.

In response to Chmiel’s dismissal, school district officials will allow for one hour of public comment on any topic at the school board’s Long-Term Planning Committee meeting March 21. The Zoom meeting starts at 6 p.m.

The first hour of the meeting will be open for public comment. Then, the Long-Term Planning Committee will discuss potential enrollment growth triggered by new development in Princeton. A consultant has been hired to project new enrollments.

After the committee completes its discussion and review of the consultant’s report, another hour of public comment will be allowed. All speakers must limit their comments to three minutes during both public comment segments.

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