Atlantic City High School

Atlantic City High School has a new principal, parents learned in an automated call Friday. Donald Harris will serve as interim principal, the call said.

The move comes as previous High School Principal Constance Days-Chapman faces charges including official misconduct for allegedly failing to report a student’s claims of abuse at home. Instead, Days-Chapman went to the student’s parents without making a report to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. Her position makes her a mandatory reporter, which requires any allegations of abuse to be reported.

It was not clear whether Days-Chapman would continue to be paid.

The charges are allegedly tied to a raid at the home of Mayor Marty Small Sr. and his wife, Laquetta, who is Atlantic City school district superintendent. The couple have not been criminally charged with anything at this time.

The mayor has been adamant in his support for Days-Chapman, known as Mandy, and said she has not done anything wrong.

Harris currently serves as supervisor of secondary education, a position he has held since 2015. He served as interim principal in 2014, after then-Principal John DeStefano left to become superintendent of the Buena Regional school district.

He is married to Richmond Avenue School Principal Nicholson Harris. But she is not his only family member working for the school district, despite her being the only one listed on his latest “Relative Disclosure Statement” that he filed with the School Ethics Commission, or SEC.

The list is supposed to include all relatives employed in any school district.

Caldwell is the wife of former Superintendent Barry Caldwell, who returned to the district in 2022 as interim director of operations. She is listed as an administrator on all his SEC disclosures, including last year’s.

The Caldwells’ daughter, Jordan, is a teacher in the district. Their son, Peyton, was hired as a “preschool community and parent involvement specialist,” according to the Board of Education agenda from Oct. 17 of last year.

Both Barry Caldwell and his daughter are mentioned in that agenda, with Barry Caldwell being replaced as interim director of operations by Atiba Rose effective Dec. 1. The district’s website still lists Caldwell in that position.

On that same agenda, Jordan Caldwell was added as a consultant for the professional learning community.

BreakingAC could not find any anything filed with the SEC for either of the Caldwells’ grown children disclosing these relationships.

Another teacher, McKenzie Harris, is a cousin, as is Robert Caldwell, who works as a custodian.

Barry Caldwell’s “Relative Disclosure Statement” lists all of those familial connections, but neither Harris’ nor Gabby Caldwell’s most recent filings do.

BreakingAC reviewed Harris’ filing dating to 2014. He only mentions relatives beyond his wife in the 2021 filing.

Another relative in the mix is R. Mark Harris, who served as the district’s superintendent from 1992 to 1996. He now is mentoring at New York Avenue School, BreakingAC has been told. But no position listing could be found for him.

The family also has powerful connections. Gabby Caldwell’s brother is political powerhouse Joe Jacobs, who previously served as the board’s solicitor. That job now belongs to Tracy Riley. Jacobs once worked as of counsel with the firm Riley runs with her husband.

A former board member once alleged that Jacobs’ ties to Gov. Phil Murphy were why problems in the district would never be fixed.

Categories: Atlantic City

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.