School nurse resigns after Orange administrators discover lack of license

Fisher Hill School in Orange.

Fisher Hill School in Orange. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-04-2024 12:51 PM

Modified: 04-09-2024 3:26 PM


ORANGE — The man employed as a licensed practical nurse at Fisher Hill School from Oct. 2 to Feb. 28 did not have a proper license, a matter that is under investigation, according to the Ralph C. Mahar Regional and Union 73 school districts.

Robert Davis possessed only a certified nursing assistant license and resigned from his position when administrators learned this information. Mallory Ellis, chair of the Orange Elementary School Committee, said the school district received a tip through an anonymous phone call. She acknowledged there were “definitely some gaps” in the quality of the hiring process.

“We don’t deny that. That was a mistake. The district owns that responsibility,” Ellis said, “and steps have been taken to ensure that doesn’t happen again.”

Ellis said the matter is under investigation by the state Department of Children and Families, the Orange Police Department and the town’s legal counsel. As a mother with children in the school district, she said she completely understands how upsetting this news must be for parents and guardians.

“[School Committee members] were just as bothered by this information as parents were,” Ellis said.

A new licensed practical nurse has since been hired. Ellis explained the school district has for this entire academic year employed a full-time registered nurse certified by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and that a licensed practical nurse serves more of a supportive role.

Ellis said parents and guardians were alerted to news regarding the LPN on three occasions — in a newsletter entry announcing the LPN vacancy, through the mass communication system with families and in a March 27 letter signed by Superintendent Elizabeth Zielinski.

“We understand the concern this may cause you and want to assure you that we are taking appropriate measures to address this situation,” Zielinski’s letter states. “We will keep you informed of any developments.”

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In an email, Zielinski said there have been no reports of negative student interactions involving any nursing staff member.

“We have no information regarding what actions may be taken by the authorities regarding the former employee,” Zielinski wrote.

Anyone with questions or concerns is encouraged to call the superintendent’s office at 978-544-2920.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com.