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Timothy Purnell
PHOTO COURTESY MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY

BY ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

The Montclair School District is bringing back a former staffer to serve as the district’s interim personnel director.

Timothy Purnell, a former science teacher at Renaissance, was named as interim director of personnel during the Wednesday, Jan. 22 Board of Education meeting.

“We’re happy to have him call Montclair home again,” Interim Superintendent Nathan Parker said during the meeting.

Purnell replaces Dr. Paul Arilotta, who was named as interim personnel director in October, but departed the district in January. Purnell, beginning Jan. 23, will work at a salary of $700 per day through Jan. 31, and then at a prorated salary of $160,940 from Feb. 1 to June 30.

Purnell holds an Ed.D in K-12 administration from Seton Hall University.

He is an adjunct professor in public health at Montclair State University, and his specialties include mental health in educational settings. The current CEO of the American Montessori Society, Purnell will be leaving that position in order to return to the Montclair schools, Parker said.

Outside of the Montclair schools, Purnell has been a teacher and administrator in several public school districts in New Jersey, including the superintendent of Harding Township School in New Vernon and the superintendent of schools in the Somerville school district. During his time in Somerville, the school district became the first school district in the state to be named as a trauma-informed district. Under that model, teachers received training on how to work with students who may have experienced a death in the family, violence at or near their home, or other adverse situations that may affect their mental health and performance at school.

Purnell voiced his support for a new piece of legislation that would require mental health to be included as part of schools’ health and PE curricula in New Jersey.