By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
Asbury Park School Superintendent Dr. Lamont Repollet has been chosen by Governor Philip Murphy to be New Jersey’s next Commissioner of Education.
Repollet, in his three and a half years in the city, made a positive impression, introducing new programs and increasing test scores and high school graduation rates.
He brought in new staff along with new programs including a detailed plan, entitled Building a Better Future, as a blueprint to improve the troubled district.
At the high school level he introduced engineering, nursing and law and public safety programs. He also coordinated with Brookdale Community College on the Dream Academy where students can earn college credit while still in high school.
Board of Education member Barbara Lesinski said this week, “What can I say? He’s a man that truly cares about children’s success.”
Lesinski also credited Repollet with giving people the tools to create a nurturing and effective learning environment.
“I’m sad that he’s leaving, but I believe the ground work has been laid so the district and staff can carry on with #buildingabetterfuture,” she said.
Repollet will have to be confirmed by the state legislature and then submit his resignation before the board begins a search for a new superintendent.
Lesinski also said she hoped the process for finding Repollet’s replacement will be smooth.
“I hope it will be handled efficiently by a competent board,” she said.
Repollet, 47, worked as a middle school teacher and high school principal in Carteret before he was named superintendent of Asbury Park schools in 2014.
President of the Asbury Park Education Association and long time teacher in Asbury Park, John Napolitani said this week, “I wish Lamont the best success because his success will be New Jersey’s success.”
Napolitani, who was returning to the area after attending the inauguration of Governor Philip Murphy, said having both a governor and commissioner of education supporting educators and support staff can only have a positive impact on education statewide.
“He tried new and innovative things with new and exiting staff…and the union got behind him,” he said.
Napolitani said he and Repollet did not always agree but they always maintained a positive, professional and courteous relationship.
He also said having a state commissioner coming from the district and Monmouth County is a “good move.”
Napolitani also said he believes Repollet’s good relationship with staff helped him advance.
“If he didn’t have the backing of the staff and the district, he wouldn’t be where he is today,” he said. “If anybody can give us a positive reputation, Lamont can. With a governor who supports us and a state commissioner of education who supports us, it can only be positive.”
Napolitani also said he hopes to maintain a relationship with Repollet going forward.
“He’s not the type of person to forget where he comes from,” he said.
Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey expressed their support for Murphy’s choice.
“I commend Governor-Elect Murphy for selecting our very own Dr. Repollet from the great city of Asbury Park,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “The Governor-Elect has selected an individual that turned around the Asbury Park Schools, and was a positive force to our local communities within the 11th District.”
Under his tenure, the Asbury Park Schools experienced significant academic gains, with the Asbury Park High School seeing its graduation rate improve from 49 percent in 2014 to 73 percent in 2016.
“I am excited that the Department of Education is going to be lead by one of the great educators we have here in the state,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “In Asbury Park, Dr. Repollet implemented an agenda that yielded significant academic gains and tackled the social challenges that our students face on a daily basis. I am confident that he will be the leader that New Jersey’s public schools rightly deserve.”