Holmdel High School Assistant Principal Richard Katz has submitted a letter to the Board of Education announcing his retirement, effective May 1, 2012.
Katz is one of two assistant principals at Holmdel High, each one responsible for overseeing the attendance and discipline of two grades of high school students, as well as supervising certain academic departments and custodial operations at the school. The principal is William Loughran.
He began his career in education 30 years ago, as a teacher and supervisor in the Asbury Park school district, and then as an assistant principal at the Rumson-Fair Haven school district before coming to Holmdel in 2007. He will be 54 on his retirement day.
"I’m looking forward to moving on and trying something different, while I still have my health and happiness," he said. "I haven't nailed that down yet. Probably something with a little less stress," he said, adding that he has "nothing but positive memories" of his time in Holmdel.
During his time, Katz worked with his counterpart, Assistant Principal Kevin Bals, on developing a policy that opened up cell phone use to students during non-instruction time. In the classroom, they must be turned off, but students can use them to call or text during their lunch period or between classes.
"We are one of the few districts that allows students to use cell phones in this way," he said. "We are treating student with respect. We've had a large reduction in the amount of incidents regarding cellphones, we no longer take cellphones away, and so we've gotten rid of all that Mickey Mouse stuff. We can focus on academics and no longer have power struggles over cell phones," he said.
Katz said he is also pleased to be part of a team that introduced an elective biology course to upper classmen this year who are not in the honors or AP track, the so-called "students in the middle."
"Regular students can take 'College Bio' and get four college credits," said Katz. The course won accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
His departure before the end of the school year is partly because he is keeping his options open to work as a non-contracted school employee for a school district in September, he said. Under the rules, a district administrator must be severed from for at least 120 days before being eligible to be hired again, he said. He might also dabble in the business of golf, he joked.
But even though he won't be on the payroll, he said he'll be back to see his kids graduate at the end of the school year. As in the past, he'll be in the elevated press box, surveilling the boys for rascally behavior. ("It's always the boys, never the girls," he says.)
On June 21, this reporter saw Katz in action. During the ceremony at the Collins Arena at Holmdel High School, as names were being called and diplomas handed out in dignified fashion, Katz's eyes narrowed on some suspicious behavior among the boys that portended something was about to go down.
Within moments, he quietly radioed a school administator on the ground to enter a certain row of students and to approach one in particular. A colorful beach ball emerged from under his graduation robe, and was swiftly confiscated. Nobody ever knew.