The principal who lost his job after blowing the whistle on test cheating in Camden schools seven years ago is again on his way to being let go, giving life to the adage that no good deed goes unpunished.
Rehired less than a year ago, Joseph D. Carruth has been told he will be out of work on July 1 unless the School District finds a new position for him. State education officials, who are taking over the city's schools, should do their best to keep him employed.
No one was ever held responsible for what state investigators called "adult interference" at two Camden elementary schools and the magnet high school where Carruth was principal. But others said the schools' unusually high test scores, which had been exposed by The Inquirer, stemmed from cheating.
Carruth said he lost his job in 2006 after refusing to alter test scores despite pressure from an assistant superintendent. He was unemployed for six years, but won his job back last August after a stunning ruling by an arbitration judge, who ordered the district to rehire Carruth even if it meant dismissing someone else to create a vacancy.
Instead of being given a principal's job, Carruth graciously accepted an assignment in the district's safety and security department. But that decision came back to haunt him last week when Camden's school board approved eliminating more than 200 jobs, including Carruth's special-assignment position, to help shrink the district's budget.
In his ruling last April, the arbitrator anticipated upheaval in the district, which has suffered from fiscal mismanagement for years, but he nevertheless ordered Carruth reinstated. The state's fiscal monitor for the district, Michael Azzara, acknowledged his responsibility to approve whatever "bumping is required" to find a position for Carruth. So how can he be cast aside so easily now?
Union rules, including seniority requirements, will play a role in which district employees ultimately lose their jobs. But they shouldn't be an impenetrable barrier to finding Carruth another position. He has been punished enough for standing up for truth.
Carruth told The Inquirer's Editorial Board he wants another chance to help improve Camden schools. "The kids need as many advocates as they can get. . . . Let's do right by these kids," he said. Doing right means hiring dedicated principals who are willing to put the interests of their students above their personal ambition.
In announcing the state's takeover of Camden schools, Gov. Christie promised to install leaders who will make a positive difference. Carruth has already shown that type of leadership.