Health issues lead Meinders to retire as superintendent

Staff Writer

Less than one year after being named the superintendent of schools in the Jackson School District, Lu Anne Meinders has announced her retirement from the position due to health reasons.

Meinders said her decision to retire stems from a recent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in combination with high blood pressure.

Her retirement on July 1 will mark the end of a long association with the district.

“I confess to having absolutely no objectivity when it comes to Jackson — I attended school here, I have worked here for almost three decades, and I love this district and the people in it very dearly,” Meinders said during the Feb. 18 meeting of the Board of Education.

“On every path I have walked, it has been arm-in-arm with colleagues who are truly dedicated to the mission of the Jackson School District,” she said.

Board President Barbara Fiero said a search is underway for Meinders’ successor, and that officials hope to have a new superintendent in place by the time Meinders leaves her position. Meinders, who lives in Jackson, began working in the district as a middle school math and science teacher 25 years ago.

She taught Advanced Placement English before going on to work as the district’s coordinator of grants, coordinator of curriculum and deputy superintendent.

Meinders’ brief service as the head of the school district began in July 2013 after a nine-month search by the board to fill the position left vacant by the retirement of Thomas Gialanella.

“Although my heart is heavy, I do have the greatest pride in the many accomplishments I share with my fellow teachers, administrators and support staff,” Meinders said.

Fiero said Meinders’ departure is a sad development for the board, regardless of its necessity.

“I am disappointed for her and I am sad for us because she has worked so hard for so long on so many important issues,” Fiero said. “I am glad, however, that she is doing what she needs to do to take care of herself and to get her health concerns under control. But she will be greatly, greatly missed.”

Meinders is regularly cited as the foremost expert in Jackson on changes that are coming to New Jersey schools, such as the Common Core State Standards and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

“[Meinders] was preparing us … before half the people in the state even knew what PARCC was,” Fiero said. “She was a visionary in this respect. Because of her leadership, our students are better served and we are ahead of the game. It’s that simple.”

Fiero said many educators applied for the superintendent’s position following Gialanella’s retirement. She said the process of selecting the district’s new leader has begun.