Michael Pisseri hired to lead Scotland Elementary School

Scotland Elementary School has a new principal — though the hiring comes with some backlash from parents, who feel they were left out of the selection process.

The Board of Education hired Michael Pisseri as Scotland’s new principal at a special meeting on Nov. 21.

“I’m really excited, Ridgefield Public Schools has a reputation for excellence and helping every kid succeed and I’m really proud to be a part of that,” said Pisseri, who is currently principal of Davenport Ridge Elementary School in Stamford.

Pisseri will replace William Santarsiero, who has served as interim principal at Scotland since early August. The superintendent’s office said that Pisseri’s exact start date is still being “worked out between the two districts.”

Scotland’s previous principal, Joanna Genovese, resigned over the summer after parents called for her removal. Parents alleged that she put students safety at risk by not providing enough staff during lunch and recess. They also pointed to posts made on her personal Facebook page that they said were inappropriate.

Scotland parents were once again disgruntled last week when it was announced Pisseri would be hired.

Several parents said they wanted Santarsiero to stay on as principal.

“Mr. Santarsiero, a Ridgefield resident, brought a lightness back to SES that was missing for so long. There was laughter in the halls, and learning in the classrooms,” said Patty Labozzo, a Scotland parent.

“Is it disruptive to change a principal so soon into a year (and right before the holidays) — in a school where there have been five principal changes in just a few years?” she said.

Playing the drums

Asked about the controversy surrounding Genovese’s resignation, Pisseri said he didn’t know much about the story of her departure.

“I only look forward and never look back — ‘I’m a musician I play the drums’,” he said, quoting Elton John.

Pisseri’s hiring permanently fills another senior administrative role that was left empty after four administrators resigned this past summer. The district still needs to find a new superintendent to replace Dr. JeanAnn Paddyfote, who has served as an interim since July.

‘Open door’

Pisseri has led Davenport Ridge for the last eight years.

Prior to that, he worked as an assistant principal in the Norwalk Public School system, a social studies teacher and curriculum leader in Westport, and a social studies teacher in Stratford.

He holds a bachelor of arts and master of arts in teaching from Fairfield University. He received his school administration certification from Sacred Heart University.

“The board is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Michael Pisseri as principal of Scotland Elementary School,” said Fran Walton, chairwoman of the school board. “He brings a wealth of social and emotional knowledge which will be an asset to the district.”

A former athlete and ardent New York Jets fan, Pisseri said he coaches youth basketball and baseball.

“[I] love team sports, and that’s a big reason I’m a principal,” Pisseri said.

He said he decided to work in Ridgefield based on the district’s reputation for “doing an amazing job of helping kids succeed … those are attributes of something I want to be a part of.”

He described himself as a good listener with an “open door” who can “be collaborative.”

“I am constantly impressed with Michael’s ability to get things done. He builds relationships with

everyone around him,” said Maggie Andersen, PTO president of Davenport Ridge Elementary School.