Camden board picks current deputy as interim schools chief

Posted: June 28, 2012

After a marathon meeting that went past midnight and included an impassioned 15-minute parting speech by departing Superintendent Bessie LeFra Young, the Camden school board unanimously approved deputy superintendent Reuben Mills to fill in at least temporarily as interim superintendent.

The board chose Mills to take over when Young leaves Friday after a leading candidate for the interim job withdrew his name from consideration Tuesday morning.

Mills will receive a $1,250 monthly stipend, on top of his $160,000 salary, to fill the top spot of the struggling school district. Mills appointment and stipend will go to Camden County Superintendent of Schools Peggy Nicolosi for final approval. The amount is the same Mills received while Young was on leave last year and early this year.

The board has not yet decided whether Mills will remain as interim superintendent until a permanent replacement for Young is selected or if another search for an interim will be conducted, board attorney Lester Taylor said this morning.

"All (options) are on the table," Taylor said.

The decision to appoint Mills did not come until after midnight when the board came out of closed session.

Prior to the closed session Young gave an impromptu farewell speech in which she chastised the state for pushing their agenda, which she claims is privatization of schools, and using the district's money to do it.

"You are allowing people to reorganize, re-budget your money," Young said, speaking to the audience of about 50 people and the district's television camera, which broadcasts the meetings to residents on CCS-TV Ch. 19 and 30.

"For some reason, somehow, someone thought they could use Camden as a wholesale market," Young exclaimed from her seat among the board members, almost in a preaching tone.

Before coming to Camden as part of Young's team in 2007, Mills served as director of school support services in Philadelphia, overseeing professional development for principals, school police, and food service personnel.

He received his New Jersey administrator certificate in 2008, according to a copy provided by the district.

Under her contract, Young is to receive three months' pay, totaling $62,000, in severance, plus an as-yet-undisclosed amount in reimbursement for travel and other expenses.

Contact staff writer Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917, or or on Twitter @InqCVargas. Read her blog, "Camden Flow," at

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