Sanchez on Administrative Leave from Columbia High School

The superintendent announced this morning that Principal Sanchez is on administrative leave from the high school.  Ann Bodnar will take over for now.

I can't wait to hear how this went down over the holiday break. 

https://villagegreennj.com/breaking-news/chs-principal-sanchez-placed-on-administrative-leave-bodnar-to-helm-school-in-interim/


Very curious to hear why this happened.  My kid loves him.  


DanDietrich

May 11, 2023 at 9:45pm

Our old school board did too much in private, so we voted them out. Now our new board has decided to fire Principal Sanchez without any discussion. Six of them met and decided this. This is a travesty.



If it is an HR matter, isn't it the case that the Board can't release any information?


Jaytee said:

DanDietrich

May 11, 2023 at 9:45pm

Our old school board did too much in private, so we voted them out. Now our new board has decided to fire Principal Sanchez without any discussion. Six of them met and decided this. This is a travesty.

Does administrative leave = firing?  


joan_crystal said:

Jaytee said:

DanDietrich

May 11, 2023 at 9:45pm

Our old school board did too much in private, so we voted them out. Now our new board has decided to fire Principal Sanchez without any discussion. Six of them met and decided this. This is a travesty.

Does administrative leave = firing?

DD’s post was from May, about reports of an earlier effort to dismiss Sanchez by the previous board.


joan_crystal said:

Jaytee said:

DanDietrich

May 11, 2023 at 9:45pm

Our old school board did too much in private, so we voted them out. Now our new board has decided to fire Principal Sanchez without any discussion. Six of them met and decided this. This is a travesty.

Does administrative leave = firing?  

Sanchez's contract was renewed last summer, but I think principals must work four years before they are eligible for tenure. Assuming he does not have tenure yet, administrative leave will probably end with Sanchez being fired (contract expires) or resigning.


I no longer have kids in the system, but the kids and parents I know seem to love him. I'd love to know more about why this happened.


At dinner tonight, my kids (one currently at CHS, one recent CHS grad) realized they both think Mr. Sanchez was a very likable Principal, but that he was not very skilled at doing Principal things like managing the school. 

My son's example was his AP tests last year, which were in classrooms right next to where the Prom ticket pickup scheduled... and why didn't anyone in the administration realize that was a bad idea? 

Once it became apparent that the students lined up for the tickets were going to be a bit noisy while waiting for the tickets to be handed out, the administrative decision wasn't to start handing out tickets early. Nor to move the ticket-handing-out area to a spot that could allow for sound to occur without disturbing AP testing, but to tell the students that since they were being loud waiting for the ticket distribution, that they would NOT be getting the Prom tickets distributed that day at all (and there were only a few times/days the ticket handout was scheduled for). 

This only made things worse as administrators were basically administering collective punishment for something that was mostly due to their own logistical error. 

The sound in the hallway got worse when they announced the 'no tickets today' (and I think kids were carrying a lot of cash on them to purchase the tickets since, strangely, that was the required method to pay?) Their sound then went outside, right next to the open windows of the AP testing rooms. The kids taking the AP tests were not only disturbed by the disturbances, but they now knew they ALSO couldn't pick up their tickets after they finished their AP test either... adding another level of frustration. They would all need to come back the next day, carry around a wad of cash home and back again, wait in even longer lines for the tickets, and possibly miss something else they had planned for afterschool.

So, while my kids had no idea what Sanchez' suspension offense was (none of the rumors they heard seemed quite that bad), my kids did say this AP test/prom ticket fiasco was just one example of how the high school seemed to be run under Sanchez: with a lack of planning and understanding of what was happening where, resulting in messing up multiple things at once -- and then punishing the kids basically for being kids, rather than the administration making reasonable adjustments, or planning any better in the future.


I’m very curious to know what’s going on as well. My daughter is at CHS and thinks Mr Sanchez is great. 

I thought the step of putting someone on administrative leave was usually in response to something more urgent than generally subpar performance. But given all the turmoil of the last year or so I don’t really know what to think.  

Principal Sanchez was almost removed by the board last year. But now we have an Acting Superintendent because the current superintendent is also on leave. And Ann Bodnar, the Acting Principal, was also part of the group which was severed from the normal contract renewal process at the same time as Mr Sanchez last May. 

So I’ll keep checking this thread for concrete information about what’s going on I guess. And the Village Green. 


Yeah, my previous quote is not at all relevant here.  For example, two of the new members of the board who ran on a platform that included renewing Sanchez voted for the removal, which means something changed their mind.  Facebook is full of speculation that is all worthless, so I'm waiting to see what happens.  But I don't think that he will be back.


DanDietrich said:

Yeah, my previous quote is not at all relevant here.  For example, two of the new members of the board who ran on a platform that included renewing Sanchez voted for the removal, which means something changed their mind.  Facebook is full of speculation that is all worthless, so I'm waiting to see what happens.  But I don't think that he will be back.

There’s a record of a vote on this decision to put Sanchez on leave?


mrincredible said:

DanDietrich said:

Yeah, my previous quote is not at all relevant here.  For example, two of the new members of the board who ran on a platform that included renewing Sanchez voted for the removal, which means something changed their mind.  Facebook is full of speculation that is all worthless, so I'm waiting to see what happens.  But I don't think that he will be back.

There’s a record of a vote on this decision to put Sanchez on leave?

This is an administrative leave, given by the acting superintendent, not by a vote of the BOE.  Members of the BOE clearly know what is going on and have voiced their support, but there has been no vote.


Thanks Susan. That’s what I thought … I just got confused by Dan's phraseology. 


I heard it was due to Sanchez not following protocol related to recent, potential hate crime graffiti incidents.  Apparently graffiti was removed at his direction prior to getting the local police involved.  This seems to track based on the letter from Bodnar re: the most recent graffiti - it contains the following:

School administration checked the entire library for more graffiti and found none. After police took pictures of
all of the graffiti, it was immediately removed by custodians.
 


Everything is speculation 


DanDietrich said:

Everything is speculation 

Agreed. But I think many of us are curious to know what happened, especially those of us with kids in the school. 

The fact is we may never know the full story. 


lanky said:

I heard it was due to Sanchez not following protocol related to recent, potential hate crime graffiti incidents.  Apparently graffiti was removed at his direction prior to getting the local police involved.  This seems to track based on the letter from Bodnar re: the most recent graffiti - it contains the following:

School administration checked the entire library for more graffiti and found none. After police took pictures of
all of the graffiti, it was immediately removed by custodians.
 

I heard the speculation that it was graffiti related.  He had posted a video showing graffiti, as part of an initiative that included "Stop the Graffiti". 

As to how this would require a leave as opposed to some other reprimand, I have no idea.


mrincredible said:

Agreed. But I think many of us are curious to know what happened, especially those of us with kids in the school. 

The fact is we may never know the full story. 

The kids will have a better grasp on what is going on. He’s been in the crosshairs for a while. 


mrincredible said:

DanDietrich said:

Everything is speculation 

Agreed. But I think many of us are curious to know what happened, especially those of us with kids in the school. 

The fact is we may never know the full story. 

speculation is worse than worthless.  I have a kid on the school as well.  I'm watching a thread on a different site where everyone is assuming it is about whatever their trigger issue is, graffiti, race, security, whatever.  And then everyone who agrees jumps on to make it sound like it's factual.  Personnel issues are and will remain secret.  That's the truth.


It was not, apparently, related to graffiti. 


So you can’t break up a fight because it might entail touching one of the pugilists? Or it’s only because of the pugilist’s race? I’m sorry, but the man seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place, trying to keep chs from turning into Irvington high. 


Trying to piece together what allegedly happened is challenging, to say the least. A grand jury will determine if enough evidence exists for an indictment. I don’t know what facts will be made public through that process, or how long it will take. 

I hadn’t heard of njedreport.com prior to this. They are apparently a project of a national educational advocacy group called 50Can. So they have a specific editorial slant. 

If you know me you know one of my laments is the decline of local journalism. This is the kind of story that could use a thorough journalistic approach to help the public understand. The Star-Ledger of the last century would probably have the resources to devote to taking a close look at the charges against Mr Sanchez. I have no idea where to turn for anything besides sound bites and sensationalism around a story like this now. 


mrincredible said:

Trying to piece together what allegedly happened is challenging, to say the least. A grand jury will determine if enough evidence exists for an indictment. I don’t know what facts will be made public through that process, or how long it will take. 

I hadn’t heard of njedreport.com prior to this. They are apparently a project of a national educational advocacy group called 50Can. So they have a specific editorial slant. 

If you know me you know one of my laments is the decline of local journalism. This is the kind of story that could use a thorough journalistic approach to help the public understand. The Star-Ledger of the last century would probably have the resources to devote to taking a close look at the charges against Mr Sanchez. I have no idea where to turn for anything besides sound bites and sensationalism around a story like this now. 

just like the hoodie incident at Seth Boyden, cost a teacher her job. It’s bullsiht!


Posted on FB from Courtney Winkfield, a recent BOE member:

Like many of you, I was shocked to learn that CHS Principal Frank Sanchez was forced to turn himself in for charges of child endangerment and assault yesterday. As a former SOMSD BOE member, I feel a moral obligation to provide clarity, from my point of view, as to how we arrived at this devastating juncture.

In December 2023, the BOE at the time became aware of a draft investigation report into allegations against Principal Sanchez from an incident in the spring of 2023. The incident was a student fight at CHS, in which Principal Sanchez tried to intervene for student safety. At the December 2023 meeting, our Board Attorney explained that the BOE should NOT consider the draft report. The reason was that the report was forwarded to the district even though the investigator had failed to follow protocol and submit the report to his supervisor for review and sign-off. The findings contained irregularities and claims that had not been properly vetted. Therefore the supervisor had serious concerns around the legitimacy of the report, and urged the BOE to not consider it, and wait until a proper investigation was done. 

Because of this, as a BOE, we were advised that NO action should be taken at the time in connection with this flawed report. This enraged some of the Board members at the time, who believed that Principal Sanchez should be recommended for immediate termination that evening. When it was clear that was not going to happen, two then BOE members remarked that they would be “forced to take this matter into their own hands.” Shortly after, Principal Sanchez was placed on paid leave of absence pending a more complete investigation, and the matter was referred to the NJ Division of Child Protection & Permanency (DCP&P), which is standard protocol. DCP&P found no substantive cause for the complaint and refused to investigate. This decision is important. The agency that is tasked with protecting children determined that there was no substantive cause to take any action against Principal Sanchez. 

Recently, in fact within this past week, the new external investigation was completed and provided enough clarity about the allegations to provide for a full reinstatement of Principal Sanchez as early as next week. 

So how did Principal Sanchez end up having to fight for his freedom and his reputation, instead of returning to his job as an educator? On her way out of Board office at the end of December 2023, former Board Member Malespina provided a copy of the December 2023 flawed, inactionable, draft report to the Maplewood Police Department who in turn provided it to Essex County prosecutor's office, leading to the warrant for and ultimate arrest of Principal Sanchez. 

Please understand: This witch hunt began a year ago and initially played out in the attempted firing of Principal Sanchez on May 11, 2023. When that effort failed, members of the BOE, in partnership with BPW, sought to find another pathway to remove this leader. 

When we try to understand why anyone would do this, we should ask who stands to benefit from the instability and the injustice of removing dedicated education professionals and destabilizing our school district. Who benefits from our district failing? Certainly not our students. 

As a former principal, I am horrified at what Principal Sanchez is facing in his attempt to keep kids safe and prevent a physical altercation. His colleagues across the District are right to fear further attempts on their own careers as they wonder who may be next. It is up to us and us alone, as a community, to put a stop to the railroading of educators, in which a small number of people seem to glory, while our students pay the price. 

As Principal Sanchez gears up for a battle no educator should ever have to face, he urgently needs our support. And we need to demonstrate that we will not be manipulated and bullied by those who would circumvent the democratic process and take advantage of the justice system to persecute someone for trying to do one of the most difficult jobs there is. 

We can right this wrong. Here’s what you can do to make a difference:

Call the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and urge them to drop these baseless charges!

973-621-4700

973-621-4021

973-266-7220

Demand that the Board of Education investigate how the inactionable report got to the Maplewood Police Department and take action to hold the individual(s) accountable!  Email boemembers@somsd.k12.nj.us "


So Ms. Winkfield's objection is that another former BOE member brought a report alleging potential criminal misconduct by the principal to the police after the report writer's supervisor (the Superintendent?) and the BOE attorney said to keep it quiet until they could conduct another investigation?

I like Principal Sanchez and hope he's exonerated by the facts, but the outrage over notifying the police about possible criminal misconduct confuses me.


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