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Making his case

Donaldson hearing for ousted principal scheduled for May 15

Frank Chmiel will make his case for reappointment as Princeton High School principal May 15 at a Princeton Public Schools Board of Education special meeting.

The 6 p.m. meeting will be held in the Princeton Middle School auditorium. Public comment will be allowed for one hour, followed by a hearing – known as a Donaldson hearing – at 7 p.m.

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

A school district employee whose contract is not being renewed has the right to 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 was placed on administrative leave by Superintendent of Schools Carol Kelley on March 17. No reason was released in the announcement of the move in a letter to the Princeton High School community.

His sudden 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 his dismissal. 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. The superintendent invited a handful of students inside to talk, but it is not known what was discussed.

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