Letter to Ocean City Board of Education strongly recommending the district’s Director of Student Services, Dr. Lauren Gunther, be allowed to compete with the three finalist for the position of Ocean City School Superintendent along with describing unacceptable treatment of a valued district employee during the selection process.
Mr. Chris Halliday, President, Ocean City Board of Education.
Subject: School Superintendent Selection Process
Dr. Lauren Gunther
Wednesday, September 6, 2023
Dear Mr. Halliday:
Since 1988, Ocean City Fairness in Taxes (FIT) has been watching over municipal and school operations, with a focus mainly on budgets and finances of the entities. Very rarely will FIT involve itself directly with personnel matters, but in this case, FIT feels compelled to write this letter regarding the ongoing search for a new school superintendent.
It has been FIT’s belief since the start that it was not necessary for the search to leave school property as the district has a highly qualified, seasoned and capable individual who has all the attributes needed to be the next superintendent of the Ocean City School District.
Dr. Lauren Gunther is that person and unfortunately the board seems to be overlooking her despite her considerable skill set, strong character and demonstrated dedication to the school community, which is deeply concerning.
FIT is aware of a letter/email from the Ocean City Administrators Association addressed to the Ocean City Board of Education members, as a collective body, in which displeasure is expressed that Dr. Gunther did not make it to the second round of interviews for school superintendent.
FIT fully agrees with the contents and observations of this well written letter or email.
While the letter reveals much troubling information, like the disrespectful manner in which Dr. Gunther was informed of being eliminated from further consideration, FIT would like to focus on the reason why this unwise decision is not in the best interest of the school district.
It is now painfully obvious that the former school superintendent did not live up to his promise of being a good steward of the district.
Despite his lack of attention to Ocean City, the schools still operated and students were educated. A major reason why the district was still able to function and maintain academic performance was due to the commitment of the school administrators, which includes Dr. Gunther and other hard working school officials.
Dr. Gunther lead a team that performed above and beyond expectations with managing the educational aspect of the district as they effectively filled the leadership void created by the former school superintendent without any fanfare or additional compensation.
Dr. Gunther is a highly respected member of the Ocean City school community and has the universal support of all bargaining units in the district.
She has a proven track record of success along with demonstrating her unwavering commitment to the well-being of the district.
In fact, Dr. Gunther, on behalf of the board, presented the district’s approach to handling one of the most controversial educational issues facing the community in many years and that was the implementation of the state mandated health and sexual education standards.
Dr. Gunther presentation was a masterclass in upholding the family values of Ocean City while simultaneously satisfying the demands of Trenton. It was of those rare occasions where all parties seemed to be satisfied with the outcome.
Dr. Gunther knows the school community and fully understands the guiding principles that are the foundation of this town. She represents the district well and has been a champion for both students and staff.
She is familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the district, which places her in a strong position to immediately implement positive change. In addition, no question the morale of the district’s workforce will greatly improve under her inspirational leadership.
It is the position of the Ocean City Fairness in Taxes Board of Directors that Dr. Gunther has EARNED the right to directly compete with the three (3) finalist currently under consideration.
FIT has the utmost confidence that if given a fair chance to fully showcase her talents, Dr. Gunther will be a competitive candidate in the superintendent selection process. When the district needed Dr. Gunther to step up and unofficially assume additional responsibilities, she did so without question or hesitation.
Now, the board needs to properly acknowledge that extraordinary effort and afford her a fair and equal opportunity to participate in the selection process with the three (3) other finalist.
If Dr. Gunther is given a genuine chance to compete against the other three (3) candidates, FIT will abide by the decision of the board with respect to the final selection. Anything less from the board of education will send a demoralizing message to school staff that hard work is not appreciated, recognized or rewarded.
Dr. Gunther is truly the “passionate educator and visionary leader” that the Ocean City school community so desperately needs at this moment. She cares about Ocean City and will not fail the district if given a chance to lead.
David Breeden, President
Ocean City Fairness in Taxes
cc: Ocean City Board of Education Members
Ocean City Fairness in Taxes Board of Directors
Tim Kelley, Board Secretary/Business Administrator
Dr. Curt Nath, President OCAA
Mary Beth Libro, President OCEA
William Shallcross, President OCESSA