Princeton High School principal will be offered a contract to return next year, sources say

Frank Chmiel

For the past week or more, rumors have spread that the principal of Princeton High School is being terminated at the end of the school year. But school district sources say those rumors are simply not true. Principal Frank Chmiel will be offered a contract to return next year.

“It’s false information,” according to a school district official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue. “There was never a recommendation by the superintendent not to renew him. It was never even discussed with the board.”

The school board met in closed session to discuss various personnel issues on Wednesday in preparation for next week’s regular board meeting, when the board will make all the district’s personnel appointments for the upcoming academic year, a routine practice each May. Under state law, discussions about personnel are private and can only be held in public session if an employee agrees to waive the closed session privilege.

“As a district, PPS works hard to be as transparent as possible regarding all district procedures and decisions. While we are glad that we have staff and families who are invested in the district’s team, all personnel discussions are required to be confidential,” said an official spokesperson for the district when asked about the rumor regarding the firing of Chmiel. “As a part of a longstanding policy, evaluations are conducted for all staff members before contracts are offered for the next school year. We ask members of the district community who may be concerned to allow this process to run its course. We look forward to sharing the board’s decisions on staffing when finalized.”

Chmiel is serving his first year as principal of the high school. Previously he was a principal in Franklin Township.

Two petitions have circulated this week in connection with the rumors and the departure of another district staff member. The science supervisor is leaving the district to take a job as an assistant superintendent in Mount Laurel.

One petition calls for accountability from Superintendent Carol Kelley. “With the departure of the excellent science supervisor from the science department of the high school, the preoccupation that the principal could be dismissed, the report that experienced voices in the PHS community are not listened to, we ask to the board that the new superintendent come in front of her stakeholder to clearly explain her recent actions and the lack of information to the community,” reads the petition signed by more than 600 people.

The second petition has been signed by more than 1,100 students. “It has come to our attention that Dr. Carol Kelley, Superintendent of Princeton Public Schools has recommended the termination of Mr. Chmiel’s contract as principal of Princeton High School. We urge you to sign in support of Mr. Chmiel’s contract renewal,” reads the petition. “We are writing in support of Principal Chmiel and to thank him for making us feel welcome in our school environment. As seniors, we have gone through three principals, and not one has made us feel like a respected part of the PHS community like Principal Chmiel has. He has been tremendously supportive of all issues presented to him both in confidence and in our student advisory meetings. Any matters from gender equality to race/cultural equity were given equal consideration. He has used his status as a way to bridge the gap between minority students and administrators.”

District officials will host community forums Thursday, May 5, and Tuesday, May 17, to discuss the strategic planning process for the Princeton Public Schools. The May 5 meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will be held via Zoom.