For 11 years, Joan Marsilia was a familiar face in the hallways at Timberlane Regional High School as its school resource officer.
But with the beginning of the new school year, the veteran patrol officer is nowhere to be seen.
The same woman who was cheered on by hundreds of students as she had her head shaved for charity last year when the students raised $5,000 has been reassigned because of a “philosophical shift” and a need for “new blood,” Plaistow Police Chief Stephen Savage said.
Marsilia was transferred to the Police Department’s patrol force about three weeks ago, upsetting members of the community, he said.
“It met with an uproar,” he said.
Savage said it was decided a new school resource officer was needed in the wake of a recent administrative restructuring implemented by Superintendent Earl Metzler.
That shakeup resulted in a half-dozen administrators assuming new roles in the district in what Metzler said was an effort to improve leadership and “student services.”
Metzler said it’s important that the district focus more on the individual needs of students and how to meet them.
While both Savage and Metzler praised Marsilia for her work with students over the years, they said a change was needed. Marsilia, who could not be reached Friday for comment, wasn’t happy with the move, but accepted the decision, they said.
“She did a superlative job, but she was there for 11 years,” Savage said. “(Metzler) was looking for something she was not ready or willing to deliver.”
He would not elaborate.
Although Savage said there have been complaints about the move, Metzler said he hasn’t received any negative feedback from the public.
“There is a point, sometimes, when there is a time for a change,” Metzler said. Eleven years “in an SRO position is a long time.”