The timing may or may not have been coincidental, but on the same day that students were protesting the denial of tenure for a Mamaroneck High School English teacher, the principal who recommended the denial unexpectedly announced he would retire at the end of the school year in June.
Dr. Mark Orfinger, Mamaroneck High School principal for the past 13 years, called an extra faculty meeting on Tuesday, April 6, to announce his retirement.
“It was a big surprise to me,” said Mamaroneck School Board President Linnet Tse. “The board learned about it quite suddenly [on Tuesday] – no reasons were given,” she said. “I was stunned to hear the news.”
On Wednesday, the district’s public information officer had more details from Dr. Orfinger. “”He and his wife made a joint decision to retire last week during spring vacation,” said Debbie Manetta. “His wife has been an elementary school teacher for many years in Ardsley and they have been leading very active, hectic lives.”
She also reported that Dr. Orfinger said there was no connection between his retirement and the tenure issue.
Dr. Orfinger is 61 and his career in New York State public education spans 40 years. He began as an English teacher in the Bronx. Before coming to Mamaroneck, he was the principal of Truman High School in Manhattan.
Although retirees may work outside the New York system or outside the state and still receive a pension, Dr. Orfinger indicated he is looking forward to spending more time with his family, traveling, biking and “taking advantage of the many cultural opportunities in Manhattan,” according to a statement issued by the district later on Wednesday.
Mamaroneck’s superintendent, Dr. Paul Fried, is himself retiring from New York public education in July (although he will become the superintendent in Montville, New Jersey).
Ms. Manetta said Dr. Fried has already been speaking about the MHS principalship with the incoming superintendent, Dr. Robert Shaps. “They will be working together immediately to begin the replacement process,” said Ms. Manetta.
During Dr. Orfinger’s Tenure
The district’s release highlighted Dr. Orfinger’s accomplishments. During his time in Mamaroneck, the high school underwent significant construction, including the development of a science wing, the centralization of the guidance department, and the development of the new library, café and Post Road entrance.
He is “particularly proud of expansion of student activities and student leadership endeavors; promotion of a strong and challenging academic program; development of supplementary academic/social support programs, and strengthening of a vibrant elective program.”
Dr. Orfinger also “points to the hiring and support of more than a 100 staff members selected during his tenure who have blended beautifully with more experienced staff,” and he speaks fondly of the more than 3500 students to which he has awarded diplomas. “I will always feel deeply connected to this school, its students and the entire community, which has been so supportive during my tenure,” he stated.
Ironically, Dr. Orfinger’s decision to deny tenure to MHS English teacher Jennifer Rosenzweig has put him in conflict with many of these students and teachers.