Ousted principal requests public hearing before school board

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Hearing will allow Frank Chmiel and his attorney to respond to the district’s reasons for non-renewal of his contract

Frank Chmiel, who was removed from his position as Princeton High School principal March 17, has requested a public hearing before the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.

Attorney David Schroth contacted Superintendent of Schools Carol Kelley, school board president Dafna Kendal and school board attorney Vittorio LaPira, on April 28 to request the hearing.

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A date for the hearing, known as a Donaldson hearing, has not been set, according to school district officials.

The Donaldson hearing will allow Chmiel and his attorney to respond to the district’s reasons for non-renewal of Chmiel’s contract. He was in his second year as the Princeton High School principal.

A school district employee whose contract is not being renewed has the right to request a written statement outlining the reasons for the non-renewal, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA).

The employee may then ask for an informal appearance before the school board to convince the board to offer a new contract, despite the superintendent’s recommendation, the NJSBA said.

The informal hearing may be held in closed session or in public, at the employee’s request. The employee may have witnesses to bolster the case for contract renewal, the NJSBA said.

Once the hearing is over, the school board does not have to take formal action. If the school board does not vote and the superintendent has made a recommendation for non-renewal, the recommendation will stand.

However, it is possible for a school board to take formal action and override the superintendent’s recommendation not to renew the contract, according to the NJSBA. The school board can vote to offer a new contract, but if it does not pass, the non-renewal stands.

Chmiel’s dismissal has drawn sharp criticism from some Princeton High School students and their parents.

Two change.org petitions calling for Chmiel’s reinstatement have been signed by more than 4,400 people combined. Another change.org petition calling for Kelley’s resignation has been signed by more than 2,100 people.

Three rallies in support of Chmiel have been held since he was dismissed in March. Students and parents rallied outside Princeton High School within days of his dismissal.

A second rally, organized by parents, was held at Hinds Plaza adjacent to the Princeton Public Library.

In a third rally, students marched to the school district’s administrative offices on Valley Road. Kelley, the superintendent, invited a handful of students inside to talk, but it is not known what was discussed.

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