The Rockville Centre Board of Education accepted the resignation of Superintendent June Chang at its Aug. 25 meeting.
Chang announced his decision to step down in a letter to the board on Aug. 11, just over a year after he signed a five-year contract to serve as superintendent. His resignation will become effective May 11, 2022, and until then, the board will search for his replacement.
At the meeting, Chang spoke publicly for the first time since his announcement. “It’s been a pleasure to have served in Rockville Centre over the past year,” he said. “I look forward to helping out in a continued transition in search of the next superintendent of Rockville Centre, and I do wish all the best to the school community.”
In his remarks, Chang stood by his recommendation to rehire South Side High School girls’ varsity soccer coach Jennifer Abgarian — Newsday’s All-Long Island girls’ soccer Coach of the Year — and her assistant, Chris Aloisi. Despite the support of Chang and Carol Roseto, the district’s director of physical education, board trustees, in separate 3-2 decisions on July 21, voted not to rehire the coaches.
Though Chang did not confirm that the board’s vote against his recommendation was the reason for his decision, he spoke about his disappointment in the decision at the meeting. “I had recommended a head coach and an assistant coach, and I still stand by those recommendations,” Chang wrote. “I am deeply saddened that those recommendations were turned down.”
Though he will remain on the job until next May, Chang tendered his resignation only a year after succeeding Dr. William Johnson, the district superintendent for 34 years. School board President John O’Shea said that the board had begun its search for Chang’s successor, and would update the community on its progress.
Board Vice President Christine Ferazani said that the trustees were “hitting the ground running” in their search. “We don’t intend to let you down,” she said. “We will do this together.”
Trustee Tara Hackett said she took the news of Chang’s resignation hard, but she attempted to reassure district parents. “It’s been a trying time for everybody in the district,” she said. “And I would like to just remind everybody that who makes up our district and what makes us successful does not rest on the shoulders of one individual or five individuals, but on the entire staff, students, and community. We all play a role in the success of this district, and I believe in this district.”
Hackett abstained from the board’s vote to accept the “amended personnel action report,” which removed Abgarian and Aloisi, signaling her support for the coaches.
The district used the executive search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates in its 2019-20 superintendent search, which led to the choice of Chang. The firm held focus groups and community forums and distributed an online survey during that process. The board did not say whether it would use the same process this time.
RVC Teachers Association President Frank Van Zant, who voiced his support for the soccer coaches, has criticized the board for its decisions over the past month. “How has this summer gone?” he asked. “It’s been given over to anxiety, fighting, private vendettas played out in public, distrust, ignored professionals and the loss of educational leadership. You couldn’t work with [Chang], and now we have uncertainty.”
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.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Rutgers University, a master’s in education from St. Peter’s University and an MBA from the Columbia Business School.
In his letter to the school board, Chang wrote that he had reached his decision after “much reflection,” but did not specify what was next for him.
“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.”