Superintendent Jim O'Neill told Chatham Patch Thursday that he will retire from his position when his current contract expires on June 30.
O'Neill informed the Board of Education that he would retire on Feb. 28, saying, "I am disappointed that I am not retiring on the time schedule I would have chosen."
At the time, the board opted to take no action on O'Neill's announcement. "They were being respectful of letting me confirm that this is really what I have decided to do, and I have recently confirmed that," O'Neill said Thursday.
"In some ways, [I'm] a little bit tired of fighting with the governor while I'm in a public position, because it's easy for people to be critical of that."
Steve Barna, the president of the Board of Education, said he did not know of O'Neill's decision. "I haven't spoken to him personally, but I'm certainly disappointed," Barna said.
O'Neill and Long Hill Superintendent Rene Rovtar currently are awaiting a court date for their lawsuit against the State Department of Education, the former and present Acting Commissioner of Education and Morris County Executive Superintendent Kathleen Serafino.
Rovtar and O'Neill are suing on the grounds that the salary caps imposed by the state, which went into effect Feb. 7, are unconstitutional and "a usurpation of the power of the legislature," according to their attorney Maria Lepore.
"I anticipate the legal case going forward," O'Neill said. "My retirement will not derail the case."
The Board of Education next meets on Monday night. Barna said that the current agenda did not have any item regarding O'Neill's contract. He said they could either add an addendum to address O'Neill's retirement Monday, or wait for a later meeting.
"I don't think we'll do anything Monday," Barna said. "There's really no urgency in the short term."
Board member Jonathan Chatinover said of the announcement, "It's something we didn't want to have happened, but it's the cards we've been dealt. It's still disappointing, though."
Once the board addresses O'Neill's retirement, they will have three options on how to proceed. "We can either conduct a superintendent search, or we could appoint or look for an interim superintendent to help us on a per diem basis, or we could even consider bringing [Assistant Superintendent Michael] LaSusa forward as an acting superintendent," Barna said.
O'Neill has stated that he would like to pursue a position as an interim superintendent, but not in Chatham.
O'Neill first came to the district as the principal of Chatham High School on Dec. 16, 1996, and became superintendent of the district on July 1, 2003.
He called his choice to come to Chatham "the best professional decision I could have made."