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Princeton's Superintendent Announces Her Intention To Leave School District

Candace Braun

Claire Sheff Kohn, superintendent of Princeton Regional Schools, announced to fellow School Board members and district faculty on Monday that she is looking to leave her current position in Princeton if she is hired as superintendent at a school in Massachusetts.

At this point in time the district has not received Dr. Kohn's official resignation, she said.

Dr. Kohn said the reason she is looking at other jobs right now is because she has put in 21 years in Massachusetts and would like to retire there with a better pension.

"I felt honor-bound to let the [School] Board, staff, and community know that if I find a job in Massachusetts I'll [be leaving]," said Dr. Kohn.

In addition, Dr. Kohn has many ties to Massachusetts, including family living in the New England area.

"My mother, siblings, and extended family all still live there," she said.

If she is hired at one of the seven schools to which she has applied, the superintendent said this would be her last school year working in Princeton.

"I've been very proud to be superintendent of Princeton Regional School District," said Dr. Kohn. "I'm grateful I had the chance to serve here. The Board, staff, and I made some good improvements."

Board President Charlotte Bialek said she would be very sad to see Dr. Kohn leave.

"I think [Dr. Kohn] has done tremendous things to this district ... I would like to see her stay three to four more years in the district to make sure all the things she's instituted become part of our regular practice."

Anne Burns, vice president for the Board, said she would "love to say she was never going to leave, but at the same time always knew" she intended to return to Massachusetts.

"She's been utterly terrific and a delight to have here," said Ms. Burns.

Dr. Kohn came to the district four years ago in February 2000, after serving as superintendent for Lawrence Township for seven years.

Before coming to New Jersey, Dr. Kohn served for five years as superintendent for a school district in Hull, Mass. She also held positions in Massachusetts schools as a teacher, guidance counselor, high school assistant principal, and assistant superintendent.

Dr. Kohn arrived in Princeton in the midst of several abrupt changes in leadership on the Board. Marcia Bossart, who was hired as superintendent in 1994, left the district in 1998 after the Board decided to buy out her contract and find a successor.

Daniel Swirsky was hired as interim superintendent, but was not given the position on a permanent basis, and was replaced by another interim, Richard Marasco, the former superintendent of Monroe Township School District. When his six months as interim had elapsed, he was replaced by Austin Gumbs, retired superintendent of Highland Park School District.

Soon after, Dr. Kohn was hired for the position on a permanent basis.

While anxious to return to her home state, Dr. Kohn said she enjoyed her time in Princeton and has made many close friends here.

"I'm contemplating leaving with very mixed motions," she said.

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