Extended story: Hurlbutt Principal Joanna Genovese resigns

Joanne Genovese

Joanna Genovese

While on administrative leave following an announcement last week that her state administrator certification had lapsed, Joanna Genovese, the principal of Hurlbutt Elementary School, resigned.

Ms. Genovese’s resignation is effective immediately, said Lewis Brey, director of human resources for the Weston school district, in a press release issued Tuesday, Sept. 18.

He said the district has already begun its search for an interim principal for Hurlbutt Elementary School to serve for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year.

The administration was notified on Thursday, Sept. 13, that Ms. Genovese does not currently hold all of the required credentials to continue to serve as principal of Hurlbutt Elementary School. She was placed on paid administrative leave pending further investigation.

Kenneth Craw, assistant superintendent of schools, will serve as temporary interim principal until an interim principal is in place.

The district will begin its search for a permanent principal of Hurlbutt Elementary School in January 2013 with the goal of appointing a new principal effective on or about July 1, 2013, Mr. Brey said.


Ms. Genovese’s state administrator certification expired on Aug. 12, according to Mr. Brey.

While she applied to renew her certification prior to the expiration date, she was notified by the state Department of Education on or about Aug. 23, that her application was missing required credentials. Ms. Genovese does not currently possess those credentials, Mr. Brey said.

On Friday, Sept. 14, the Department of Education confirmed to Superintendent Colleen Palmer that Ms. Genovese could not continue to serve as principal of Hurlbutt Elementary School.

Dr. Palmer said this was the first time in the three decades of her academic career that she has had an administrator with this issue.

She said Ms. Genovese had eight years to take several classes in order to achieve her professional certification. However, Ms. Genovese was shy two courses or six credits, when her certification lapsed. “There is no appeal process or waivers with the state. When certification has lapsed, it’s lapsed,” Dr. Palmer said.

Ms. Genovese could take classes and reapply for certification with the state. But in the meantime, as long as her certification had lapsed, she could not serve as an administrator for the Weston Public Schools.

Dr. Palmer said the state audits the district once a year to review certification, and it is each individual administrator’s responsibility to maintain his or her own appropriate certification in order to remain employed.

After she was notified that Ms. Genovese’s certification had lapsed, Dr. Palmer said she spoke with a state official who confirmed that Ms. Genovese could not serve as principal.

After calling an emergency school board meeting Friday morning, she then met with the administrative team and the Hurlbutt staff and sent emails to the staff and parents and issued a press release on the matter.

While Dr. Craw is filling in for Ms. Genovese, Dr. Palmer said she will be assuming some of his responsibilities as director of curriculum and instruction and assistant superintendent.

Ms. Genovese became the principal of Hurlbutt in 2005, the year the intermediate school opened. In 2004, she was hired as one of the school’s two assistant principals.

Before coming to Weston, she held the position of half-time assistant principal in Wilton for two years.

The Weston school board had planned to discuss Ms. Genovese’s certification issue in an executive session at Tuesday’s school board meeting. However, due to inclement weather and a tornado watch, the meeting was canceled.

Dr. Palmer and Dr. Craw plan to hold an informational meeting for parents and guardians of Hurlbutt Elementary School students in the near future.

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