By MADDY VITALE
Ocean City schools have not one, but two retired superintendents who will lead the district for the 2021-22 year as interims.
Dr. Tom Baruffi became the interim superintendent in June. Longtime educator and administrator Mark Napoleon was approved as the high school’s interim principal following the retirement of Dr. Matt Jamison.
Baruffi will be in the temporary role while a nationwide search is conducted to replace Dr. Kathleen Taylor, who retired this month as Ocean City’s superintendent of schools.
Both Baruffi and Napoleon come to the district with a wealth of experience, school board members said.
Baruffi, 61, served as superintendent in Linwood until he retired in 2014.
From 2009 through 2014 he served as a shared superintendent between the Linwood School District and the Mainland Regional High School District. Since his retirement, he has served as an interim superintendent in several school districts, including Margate, Somers Point and Mullica Township.
Baruffi said he looks forward to working in the district. He and his wife, Kathryn, live in Ocean City. They have three grown children.
Napoleon has worked in education for over 31 years, with the last 12 being in administration. He was a principal and rose to district superintendent with the Sterling High School District. Earlier in his career he was a social studies teacher.
At a meeting Wednesday night, the Ocean City Board of Education accepted Jamison’s retirement and formally approved Napoleon to take the post.
“This is a great opportunity. I have a lot of experience and I am excited to work with this board,” Napoleon said after his approval.
Board of Education President Joseph Clark thanked Baruffi and Napoleon for “coming on board.”
“We are in capable hands,” Clark said. “I know it is unnerving for us to have the two retire, but I feel good now.”
Clark emphasized that a thorough superintendent search is vital and will be done.
“This is the most important thing that we are going to accomplish and we would like to do it as fast as possible, but do what is right for the kids, administrators and teachers,” he said.
Board member Cecelia Gallelli-Keyes, who is on the search committee, along with other board members including, Clark, Bill Sooy and Jacqueline McAlister, said that the official search has begun.
“We are making sure all the proper channels are being utilized. We would like to thank Dr. Baruffi for stepping in to serve as interim (superintendent),” Gallelli-Keyes pointed out. “It is a relief to have someone like Dr. Baruffi. It is so important that we take on the role to find a replacement.”
Both Gallelli-Keyes and McAlister explained that the committee will let the public know how the search is going and provide a survey in the fall.
“We will continue to update the community as the search progresses,” Gallelli-Keyes said.
McAlister said that she is looking forward to an extensive search to find the right person to lead the district. However, she explained that the community input is going to be necessary.
“A superintendent search is done by the community at large and the public will be able to give input,” she said. “It is not a choice we make. These are not just our schools. They are all of our schools. Everyone will have an opportunity to give their input.”
In other matters, longtime school board member Tiffany Prettyman, who has been in charge of policy, is stepping down, Clark announced. Board member Fran Newman will step in to fill her role handling policy matters.
“This is sad news,” Clark said. “She has served (on the board) for many years.”
The reason for Prettyman’s resignation was not announced.