Barrington Bulletin

The most complete and most convenient source for news and information about the borough of Barrington, N.J.

Woodland principal’s future at stake; several ask for resignation of school board president

Woodland School Principal Mort Argoe questioned the thoroughness of an investigation into his alleged actions and attacked the quality of the legal representation that was offered to him during a contentious three-hour school board meeting Monday night at Avon School.

Supporters speak with Woodland Principal Mort Argoe (center) after the school board meeting Monday night.

“I’ve been told the board wants my resignation by tomorrow,” Argoe said Monday night during the portion of the meeting set aside for public comments. But he angrily said it was unfair to put things off and called on the board to vote immediately on whether they wanted him back or not. If they didn’t want him back, he said, he would hand in his resignation.

The heated dialogue involving Argoe, the board and its legal counsel and dozens of borough residents attending the meeting revolved around an apparent bullying incident at Woodland School. Specific information about the incident was never discussed because the law forbids it, as Board President Andrew Wood repeatedly told the crowd.

Speaking around the specifics as much as possible, however, members of the audience sought to better understand how an investigation into a bullying incident would take place and whether this investigation was as extensive as it should have been.

When Argoe spoke, he made it clear he did not think the investigation was handled properly, saying nobody “has investigated one thing.”

“It stinks,” he said of the process. “I’m sick of it,” he later added to strong applause from the audience.

Members of the public chat while the school board is in executive session Monday.

Several audience members speaking in support of Argoe called for the Wood, the board president, to resign his position because they said he is friends with the mother of the child involved in the bullying incident. They noted the appearance of a potential conflict of interest put the public’s belief in the board’s objectivity at risk.

Wood did not answer the calls for his resignation.

While the majority of speakers strongly supported Argoe, several also spoke in support of Wood or the board as a whole, asking the audience to understand the position the board was in with regard to its refusal to discuss specifics about the case.

RELATED: “We Support Mort Argoe” Facebook page

This is a developing story. If you happen to have details about the story, please leave a comment on this post. If you do not want your comment to be made public, please make a note of that and it will be kept private.

12 comments on “Woodland principal’s future at stake; several ask for resignation of school board president

  1. anonymous
    May 15, 2012

    Hi- Just wondering. How did you get the details for this article, and who is the author?

  2. Barrington Bulletin
    May 15, 2012

    All the details are from attending the school board meeting Monday night. All comments were made during the time allotted for the public to speak.

    As for the author:
    I am a Barrington resident and a former professional journalist in the region. I haven’t really hidden my identity – the former mayor know who I am (and the current mayor might know), the police chief and borough clerk know who I am, anyone I know on Facebook knows I’m doing the Bulletin. But I prefer to know who knows, to some degree.
    That said, if it’s important that you know my name, just respond again to this post with contact information (the information will not be made public), and I’ll contact you directly. Then we can set up a time to meet each other.

    Until then, please be sure to tell your neighbors about I’m doing this entirely as a means to keep active in journalism – and I’m not earning a penny from it. (So far, I’m well over $100 in the hole, actually.) I’m just pleased to be a part of getting the community more informed and interested.


  3. Jo Walter
    May 15, 2012

    I am not a resident of Barrington, but my son is. I applaud and commend your journalistic efforts in reporting the factual issues. It is important to distinguish between fact and emotion. The principal should certainly be given an impartial investigation based on whatever legal guidelines are in place before the Board does anything as drastic as requesting his resignation. Keep up the good work.
    Jo Walter

  4. Sherry Glaser
    May 16, 2012

    The following has been posted on the front page if the district web site…
    “The Barrington Board of Education will hold a Special Action Meeting on Wednesday,
    May 23, 2012 at 7:30 PM at the Avon School, 862 Mercer Drive, Haddonfield, NJ 08033
    to discuss matters of personnel. Formal action may occur at this meeting.”

    • Barrington Bulletin
      May 16, 2012

      Thank you for noticing this and posting about it. I have written a small item to get it more attention.

  5. bshreeves
    May 25, 2012

    Barrington Bulletin, being that you are a journalist. Is it possible that you could create another post outlining all that has happened in this situation over a simple timeline and interject what should happen at those particular timelines based on the by-laws of the school and the town?

    I’m not interested in the emotions of the situation but the facts as are currently and publicly known…insider information is not needed, or wanted for that matter.

    I’m truly hoping for an overarching understanding of all the pieces because it seems that there are so many bits of information, gossip, emails, facebook…… that just muddies the water.

    I hope that your journalistic integrity can prevail and help to serve as a calm and rational view on all that has happened.

    • Barrington Bulletin
      May 25, 2012

      To bshreeves:
      Unfortunately, the only certain facts that can be learned in this story are via the school board or Principal Argoe — and neither is speaking about it. All that I’ve written has come discussions at the school board meetings, which makes the information part of the public record.
      Specifics details about the individuals involved with this incident / these incidents has not been reported publicly, so there isn’t much I can offer in terms of “what happened when” or a timeline without relying heavily on rumor. That’s not something I will do.
      The school board has made it clear this issue is not one they will comment on. I also have reached out to Principal Argoe directly, and he also make it clear he would not comment.
      Sorry I can’t offer you more than that.

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This entry was posted on May 14, 2012 by in Schools and tagged , , .
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