She did practice teaching here; now she’ll run high school


The Kearny Board of Education voted May 18 to hire a retired educator from the Jersey Shore as interim principal of Kearny High School.

Linda Rocco of Spring Lake Heights will begin work July 1 and will be paid $500 a day, the board resolution says.

And, the resolution adds that she will continue in the post “until such time as the search for a permanent hire has been completed.”

Rocco will take over for Al Gilson, who is leaving June 30 to seek other educational opportunities.

Blood told The Observer that the principal position will be posted during the summer “and we will be seeking the best possible candidate as a permanent appointment.”

Blood said that Rocco grew up in Harrison and later moved to Kearny where, during the ‘70s, she was a summer supervisor with the town recreation program.

While in college studying education, Rocco studenttaught physical education, health and dance at Garfield Elementary School and Kearny High, Blood said.

Blood said Rocco began teaching in Mendham, served as the first woman athletic director at Whippany Park High School and at Howell High School, then as assistant principal at East Brunswick High School. In November 1999 she became the first female assistant principal of Point Pleasant High School and, in 2007, she achieved another distinction in becoming the first female principal at that school where she continued to serve until her retirement in 2012.

Since then, Blood said, Rocco has worked as an interim principal in the Matawan/ Aberdeen Regional School District.

Asked how she was picked for the job, Blood said: “She has an excellent reputation and I sought her out as someone I thought would be a good fit to lead the high school as we conduct a search for a permanent principal.”

On the business side, the BOE voted to award a contract to Paul Otto Building Co. of West Cranford for $3,282,000 for window replacement at Kearny High School as part of the ongoing Noise Abatement project.

Michael DeVita, BOE secretary/ business administrator, said the contract calls for a Dec. 15 completion.

DeVita said that a portion of the new windows are already on hand, having been previously ordered by the former general contractor who had the Noise Abatement contract and those will be installed during the summer. When the additional windows arrive, DeVita said the plan is to put those in “at night” during the fall so as to avoid any disruption of classes.

Otto has plenty of experience working at the high school, having completed a $500,000 contract for demolition work in the old pool area and handling a separate $3 million contract for work in the South Building, DeVita said.

The BOE also approved a payment of $43,617 to Sunnyfield Corp. of Ocean Township “to resolve all outstanding claims by Sunnyfield” as a plumbing sub-contractor hired by Brockwell & Carrington, the former G.C. on the Noise Abatement contract.

The BOE also sanctioned a settlement with maintenance employee Brian Doran for retroactive pay. Details on the settlement, however, were not readily available at press time.

– Ron Leir 

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