RIDGEWOOD — The village school board is expected to choose Leonard Fitts as interim superintendent Monday night, making him the first Black leader of Bergen County’s biggest school district.
Board President Hyunju Kwak said Fitts will be appointed at an evening meeting and will serve in that post while the district seeks a permanent superintendent.
“We are happy to welcome Dr. Fitts to the district,” Kwak said.
Ridgewood is the largest of 76 Bergen school districts, with 5,705 students in pre-K to grade 12 studying in 10 buildings.
Fitts has previously served as interim superintendent in the Mahwah, Burlington City, West Berlin, Glassboro, Camden and Willingboro school districts. He won cheers from Mahwah students in 2020 when he announced the district would take snow days even though classes were being held remotely during the height of the COVID pandemic.
He will succeed Superintendent Thomas Gorman, who announced in March that he would join the Montville School District as superintendent on July 1, after serving in the Ridgewood position since March 2021 and, before that, as Ridgewood High School principal for eight years.
Fitts is not a candidate for the permanent post, Kwak said. He will be paid $860 per day
“Interims are retired administrators intended to carry the district through the search process up to two years,” Kwak said. “It is prohibitively expensive to bring them out of retirement to accept new positions.”
Fitts will join the district as it contemplates a later starting time for its high school students in keeping with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The district just conducted an Alternative Schedules Initiative survey of students, parents and community members on the potential impact of an 8:30 a.m. start.
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Fitts is a native of Faunsdale, Alabama, and a U.S. Air Force veteran. He holds a bachelor of science degree in mathematics and science, and a master’s in counseling from Tuskegee University, according to the Ridgewood board. He has a doctorate in educational psychology and administration from the University of Pennsylvania and also received an MBA in finance and administration from Drexel University.
He had been a mathematics teacher, school principal, guidance counselor, school psychologist, director, assistant superintendent of special services and schools superintendent before retiring as Union County superintendent of schools in 1996.
He also held adjunct teaching positions at Rutgers University, Trenton State College and 14 other universities and community colleges.
Fitts has been named one of the National School Boards Association’s Executive 100 Educators and a recipient of the United Negro College Fund Alumni Award, the United States Naval Recruiting Award, and the March of Dimes Birth Defect Service Award.
Marsha Stoltz is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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