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Zoeller Resigns As Westwood Regional Superintendent

The Westwood Regional Board of Education voted to accept Zoeller's resignation effective April 25.

Dr. Geoffrey Zoeller, the superintendent of Westwood Regional Schools, resigned from his position effective April 25 via a letter to the school board. The board unanimously voted to accept his resignation at their meeting Thursday.

The board also voted to grant Zoeller a paid leave of absence from January 25 to April 24.

Board Member and former President Carol Mountain, who introduced the motion, said the board and Zoeller had come to a "mutual agreement" that he would resign his position.

Zoeller had been criticized by many for taking home a school-owned truck and generator for Hurricane Sandy, then leaving them there while away on vacation in Florida.

Several board members praised Zoeller for the work he did during his time in the district, noting that test scores rose, facilities and technology were upgraded and "excellent" administrators were hired during his time leading the district.

"We have to give him credit where credit is due," board Member Barbara Gregory said.

Westwood resident Gus Molina, who had previously urged the board to act on the issue before people forgot or stopped caring, thanked them for "doing the right thing."

"As a parent, I feel good about it," Molina said.

Many parents, teachers and other residents had called for Zoeller to resign. Westwood Education Association President Barry Albert said after the incident that the union had taken a vote of 222-19 of "no confidence" in Zoeller's ability to lead the district with integrity.

"I made a monumental error in judgment," Zoeller said at a previous meeting.

The board held several closed session meetings to discuss Zoeller, and ended up appointing Director of Elementary Education and Technology Rory McCourt as the acting superintendent last month. McCourt's appointment lasts through June 30.

Zoeller first joined the district as superintendent in 2006. The Board of Education approved new contracts with Zoeller in 2008 and again earlier last year. His new five-year contract had been scheduled to take affect after this school year.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Jim Leggate at Jim.Leggate@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Boyd A. Loving January 25, 2013 at 03:37 AM
Taxpayers get the shaft in the end - a fully paid 3 month leave of absence. This would never happen in the private sector - he would have just been out on his butt, period.
Glenn M. Muller January 25, 2013 at 04:21 AM
Maybe he should write a novel. That seems to be the popular thing for inept school administrators to do.
Mary Alice Jones January 25, 2013 at 10:25 AM
Let me be sure I understand this...paid since October while the board investigated, paid till April because they came to terms, hmmm. Something is really wrong here. ya think? Why should the taxpayers continue to pay this man - just plain wrong! I have serious questions about this Board of Education, perhaps they should all go as well.
JVS January 25, 2013 at 11:01 AM
My dad worked there for 38 yrs he warned everyine about him in 2006 - nothing new here
Ruth Carrino January 25, 2013 at 01:40 PM
why was everything a big secret about his job standing...is the Board hiding something?,,,I don't like the 3 month paid leave....more money out of the taxcpayers pocket going toward a thief's retirement...great
Ruth Carrino January 25, 2013 at 01:40 PM
I agree
TownshipMom January 25, 2013 at 01:55 PM
I'm sorry but there is something very fishy going on. I have never heard of so many issues surrounding a board like this. I was told a baseball player was hit in the eye during pracice in the gym,is this true? Baseball start this early?
Hardknocks January 25, 2013 at 01:58 PM
We got hosed again.
Common Cents January 25, 2013 at 03:44 PM
Aren't contracts lovely. Look at the whole picture, the episode is over. We have to put it down as experience and a lesson learned. The question now is are those who he hired actually doing a proficient job? Was there any nepotism? Are those who hired this man going to apologize to the student body? There was praise given for accomplishments by this man last night. True, the praise may had been earned, but there was no reason commend it last night. Just because Mr. Zoeller resigned and was not dismissed does not change anything. What was remarkable was that voices were raised louder when the Miller thing came up. Something that early on the agenda and cutting off the discussion, would make you wonder what is the real problem. We were told the public needs to know what the board is doing with the situation and when there seemed to be a clarification, it all ended. I personally would have liked to hear the facts. Apparently Mr. Miller had no problem answering what Mr. Blundo was asking. I heard Mr. Miller say that he had no controlling interest in the company. I also heard from a female voice I could not identify, that he volunteered to give up the contract. If the district can't afford to cut this company loose because it has become an integral part of the operation of the district, then let it go. If Geoff Zoeller could be tolorated, the Miller issue is nothing of concern.
Anne Williams January 25, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Retirement! So when does his pension for his $201K salary start? http://php.app.com/edstaff/details2.php?recordID=17969
kdkins January 25, 2013 at 09:49 PM
This man just earned a half-year's salary - 6 months, not 3. He's been paid since his mysterious absence from the district, with Mr. McCourt as acting Superintendent. Now he gets three months extra -- that's half of his re-negotiated salary for sitting around his home, just like the generator and school vehicle while the brilliant Dr. Zoeller flew off to Disneyworld for a vacation during Hurricane Sandy. Do we know if he has a "golden parachute" in his recently renegotiated contract? Is he paid a sum for leaving? Do we know? Are we entitled to the details? We need to rethink the appointment of all the board members. They are the ones who actually approved an INCREASE in his salary - even beyond the limits set by the Governor! We lost exceptional teachers and administrators in the last few years because of Dr. Zoeller, what has that cost us? It's time for us as taxpayers to reconsider the Board of Education, in its entirety. They, after all, are responsible for the actions of the Superintendent.
Proud community member January 25, 2013 at 11:53 PM
This has added final closure to an ugly situation. Instead of continuing with the negative comments we should begin the healing process. I am not saying we should forget and forgive those who played a role but it is time to move forward. I am proud to be part of this community and I am extremely proud of the amazing students and staff that work extremely hard day in and day out. I consider this a new beginning with an endless upside and I am excited where This district can go. For the sake of our children, move on people.
WW Cardinal Parent January 26, 2013 at 02:23 AM
Why are you picking on baseball in a Zoeller article? Why does the baaeball team get the least amount of support? For your information, baseball practice has not started.
Gary Conkling January 26, 2013 at 01:44 PM
I agree move on, but the ones who allowed this to go on need to be held responsible. As a community you need to be more involve and question what is going on because after the fact it is too late. As Spiro Agnew said " I apoligize for lying to you and I promise I wont deceive you except in matters of this sort"
B@B January 26, 2013 at 06:03 PM
For the sake of the children it's important to recognize the utter ineptitude of the people who brought this man to our school district and take whatever steps are necessary to make sure that there is accountability in our hiring process. If that means replacing the entire board of education, then so be it. I agree that we can be proud of the staff, students, and yes, the few parents who are actually focused on academics instead of just youth sports. But that doesn't mean we should be blinded to what was obviously a very bad hire.
westwoodforever January 26, 2013 at 11:19 PM
geoffrey zoller runied the coaching career of teacher joe yurko. it is reprehensible that the board has not rectified this situation.
westwoodforever January 26, 2013 at 11:22 PM
geoffrey zoeller is the biggest mistake this board has ever met. they should have vetted him better. he had charges , serious charges, before coming to westwood. he used his influence to get a longtime 60 year old coach fired. he is a scumbag.
Bob January 27, 2013 at 02:28 AM
This appeared in The Record in November: Westwood Mayor John Birkner said Friday he didn’t have any problem with Zoeller’s use of district-owned gear. "He had to coordinate the opening of six schools,” Birkner said. “If that’s what he did and that’s what worked, he was even a little more creative than I thought.” Maybe the mayor should be the next one to resign.
disgusted with WWRSD January 27, 2013 at 04:32 PM
Zoeller was praised for the "excellent " administrators he hired? I guess that means bad news for special ed families. I hope they take this opportunity to take out ALL the garbage in the district.
andromeda January 27, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Forgive and forget? Never, but all parties involved need to move forward in a constructive positive manner, including certain BOE members. Those who cannot need to resign. Those members who choose to continue the Zoeller legacy of divisive and destructive politics and continue to "ignore the noise" made by the cries of the public reveal the true depths of thief selfishness. Yes, we do have some excellent administrators and teachers who have the potential to restore our faith. And yes, youth sports can be great. But parents, please consider a renewed focus on academics, particularly for those who struggle, those whose needs have been ignored for a long time here.
TopMom January 29, 2013 at 05:37 PM
Good Riddance!!!! Sadly, too late to undo the damage. Zoeller hurt alot of people over the years, old and young. We lost alot of good people that cannot be replaced, teachers, coaches, students, programs, opportunities, etc. For so many there will never be another chance, their moments and opportunities were stolen by this spineless, pathetic dictator of a Superintendent. Lets not forget the board who supported him and whenever he said "jump!", they would only respond, "how high!". Although, Westwood H.S. maybe can move on now with our new Superintendent, Rory McCourt and new Principal and Vice principal, finally some new good HONEST people there. But watch your backs newcomers because several in that sneaky, backstabbing board need to go too!! We need some all around QUALIFIED, UNBIAS, HONEST people appointed!
TownshipMom February 01, 2013 at 12:56 AM
Hey Forever,Do you know anything about the boy that got hit in the face at baseball practice? The rumor is he may lose his eye. Isn't to early for baseball?
jaybird February 01, 2013 at 06:49 PM
well said, you hit the ball on the head when you say "It's time for us as taxpayers to reconsider the Board of Education, in its entirety. They, after all, are responsible for the actions of the Superintendent."
Bus Stop Talk February 03, 2013 at 06:12 PM
The key this this sad affair is that no questions were really answered. How did they find out Zoeller took a generator? I suppose the paper just had a hunch and took a ride to Zoeller's house. Perhaps that's why they keep paying Zoeller - to keep him quiet.
Bus Stop Talk February 03, 2013 at 06:15 PM
WW Cardinal Parent, practice did start.

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