Dear Atlantic Highlands Residents,

It is with openness and gratitude I write this letter today to inform you of my resignation from the Atlantic Highlands Elementary School Board of Education.  On Monday, April 4, 2022, after more than four years of service, I submitted a letter to both Board President Dr. Elisabeth Eittreim and Superintendent Dr. Tara Beams informing them of my resignation. 

My journey on the school board began in 2018 with a goal of increasing awareness of the importance of social and emotional health within our school.  I’m so proud of the care and attention AHES has paid towards this matter over the past four years – implementing classroom morning meetings, increasing recess to 30 minutes daily, and dedicating resources to social and emotional curriculum.

Another focus of the school board for the past few years has been the study of the feasibility of school regionalization.  In May 2020, the Tri-District boards of education of Atlantic Highlands, Highlands and Henry Hudson were awarded a $65,000 Local Efficiency Achievement Program (LEAP) grant from the state of New Jersey to study the feasibility of consolidation.  In summer 2021, the Tri-District boards of education moved forward with proposals in all five areas of the LEAP grant – legal, demographic, facilities, educational and financial analyses – with the work beginning in January 2022. 

It is at this juncture, with analyses completion anticipated by May 2022, and as the Tri-District boards of education prepare to review the LEAP grant findings and make expertly-informed recommendations regarding the future of our schools, that I have chosen to step down as a board of education member.

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Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean in residency at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park
Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean at Langosta

You see, my spouse, Brian Dougherty, is a newly-elected Councilman in Atlantic Highlands, taking office January 2022.  As elected officials, we both feel it is our responsibility to avoid even the appearance of any conflict of interest in our positions of public trust.  It would seem that if Brian remains on the Council and I remained on the Board, we would both likely need to recuse ourselves from regionalization discussions and voting matters to avoid any semblance of conflict.  And if we were both to recuse, I see this as a great disservice to the community that chose to elect us individually.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes…”  While my husband and I both have strong voices as elected individuals in our respective service positions, it became apparent to me that I would rather one of us participate in these salient conversations surrounding school regionalization than neither of us.

I thank the Atlantic Highlands community for the opportunity to serve as a member of your school board.  I ask you all to please stay informed on the LEAP grant and the school board’s upcoming recommendations regarding regionalization by attending any of the Tri-District boards of education meetings or by visiting the Tri-District website at

While I step aside to allow others to have a voice, I strongly encourage you to use yours.  Ask the AH Borough Council to allow the school boards and the experts they contracted to finish their work on the LEAP grant.  You have elected a very capable AHES school board with extraordinary administrative and board leadership.  Please be attentive to their non-partisan recommendations, as they are only interested in what is best for Atlantic Highland’s students, and our community as a whole.

With great appreciation,

Erin Dougherty

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