Schools’ Mental Health Chief, Mauriello, To Depart

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Dr. Frank Mauriello, who has been the director of special services at Verona Public Schools and the district’s mental health coordinator since September 2015, is leaving Verona for the Ramapo Indian Hills school district. Mauriello made the announcement on LinkedIn on Sunday, posting a statement from Dr. Rui Dionisio, Verona’s former superintendent and the superintendent at Ramapo since 2021.

Dr. Mauriello, who had come to Verona from Ridgewood Public Schools, led a comprehensive  upgrade of Verona’s mental health services during his time here. The initiative brought in additional licensed social workers under a contract with a private company, introduced a social-emotional learning curriculum for K-4 students, and drew on support from Rutgers University and the New Jersey Department of Education’s Office of Special Education.

In a pre-pandemic review of the mental health program, Mauriello said he felt that it had gotten students and their families the support they needed, raised grades and lowered absenteeism; it also reduced the caseloads of the district’s Child Study Teams to more manageable levels.

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The work grew out of a 2017 review of Verona’s mental wellness programs and needs in the wake of a student death by suicide, and was funded by a special ballot initiative that voters approved in November 2018. The approval of that measure means that Verona will have a dedicated pool of money to fund mental health services every year forever. (This reporter is the mother of the student who died and served on the action committee that lead to the ballot initiative.)

Mauriello worked beyond the district to bring mental wellness help to the community: In May, he organized a mental wellness festival with Cedar Grove. The New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA) and the New Jersey Association of Pupil Services Administrators (NJAPSA) recently named Mauriello the New Jersey Special Education Administrator of the Year.

Dr. Mauriello had earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from William Paterson University, a master’s in administration and supervision from the College of Saint Elizabeth, a master’s in social work from Kean University, and a master’s in education and learning from Nova Southeastern University. He earned his doctor of education degree from St. Peter’s University in 2021.

Dr. Frank Mauriello (center) with some of the speakers and participants in May’s Mental Wellness Festival.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]

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