Rockville Centre Superintendent June Chang announced his resignation on Tuesday, though he will not leave the position for nine months.
In a letter obtained by the Herald, Chang wrote that he reached the decision to tender his resignation to the school board after “much reflection.”
“We have overcome many obstacles together during the most challenging of times,” he wrote, “and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to have served the RVC schools community. However, after careful consideration with my family, I have decided to pursue other opportunities.” Chang did not specify what those opportunities were.
He added that district educators are passionate, students are committed to excellence and that it was a “great pleasure” to serve as superintendent.
Calls to Chang were not immediately returned at press time.
Board of Education President John O’Shea said he was “completely caught off guard” by Chang’s decision, but understood that he wanted to pursue other career paths.
Due to the nature of Chang’s contract, he must remain in the job until May 11, 2022, at the earliest, but because he decided to leave on his own and was not forced out, O’Shea said, the school board has no obligation to pay him beyond that date.
O’Shea said that Chang informed the board of his decision on Aug. 11, and that the trustees planned to grant his request at their next public meeting on Aug. 25. He added that school officials would start the search for a new superintendent right away, in order to find a suitable candidate by the time Chang’s contract expires.
Chang began his tenure last July 1, succeeding Dr. William Johnson, who worked for the district for 40 years, including 34 as superintendent. After Johnson announced that he would retire at the end of the 2019-20 school year, the board began interviewing search firms and chose Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, which held focus groups and community forums and conducted an online survey before the board ultimately hired Chang after an exhaustive search.
“We’re very disappointed,” O’Shea said. “We spent a lot of time picking him out and recruiting him, and had high hopes for him to stay at least for the five years’ worth of his original contract. It’s disappointing to be put into a place where we have to start that search all over again.”
Chang took over amid the coronavirus pandemic, and has faced several controversies recently, including many parents’ railing against the administration’s decision to make masks mandatory this school year, and the school board’s vote not to rehire South Side High School girls’ varsity soccer coach Jennifer Abgarian and assistant coach Chris Aloisi. Chang and Carol Roseto, the district’s director of physical education, health and athletics, recommended bringing the coaches back, but ultimately the board voted 3-2 on July 21 not to rehire them, a decision that led to some community outcry and a rally in protest.
“I don’t think the mask issue had any bearing on it, because at this point, we kind of feel like half the people want masks and half the people don’t,” O’Shea said. “The soccer coaches were definitely something. [Chang] recommended them, and the board decided not to [rehire them], so I don’t know [how that would have factored] into his decision.”
“Covid was a hard year,” O’Shea added. “I can’t imagine the difficulties he faced coming into such an odd year. I would imagine it had an effect on his decision, but we had no prior knowledge that it was going to happen.”
Chang began his career as a teacher in Paterson and New Milford, N.J., and then became a district curriculum supervisor and Holocaust education program supervisor in the Jersey City Public Schools. He worked in Midland Park as an assistant principal and director of education and professional development, and was appointed superintendent of the Summit Public School District in 2015.
Chang earned a bachelor’s in English from Rutgers University, a master’s in education from St. Peter’s University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.
“Moving forward, I wish nothing but the best for the district,” he wrote, “and I am committed to assisting in a smooth transition.”