Mayor Jerry Fried has announced his choices for the two 2011 Board of Education seats. The new appointees are Tanya Coke, a former defense attorney with expertise in human and civil rights law and has been an active volunteer in Montclair’s public schools and Norman Rosenblum, a Public Defender who has served as Chair of the Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC). Both have children in multiple Montclair public schools and have served on many committees and project teams. “This year, the Board of Education Advisory Committee had several excellent candidates, and we were able to select two who filled the Board’s most-pressing needs; members who bring legal and employment experience as well as budgetary expertise”, says Mayor Fried.
This is the second year of the Mayor’s Board of Education Advisory Committee, which worked with him to draw up criteria for members as well as interviewing them and assessing their suitability for the Board. The Committee, consisting of six representatives chosen by each of the Township Council members and two chosen by the Mayor, evaluated resumes, applications, written questions and in-person exchanges. Wil Adkins, vice-president of the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence and long-time volunteer on several local education task forces, served as chair of the committee. The others were new members Stephanie Fitzgerald, Jill Nadison and former BOE member Jean Armstrong and continuing members Michael Byrne (secretary), Gail Prusslin, Kellia Sweat and Julie Cerf.
Mr. Rosenblum has worked closely with the District’s administration since 2006 and was appointed by the former NJ Governor to serve on the State Council which dealt with the Early Intervention System. “My advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities shows my desire to help the most marginalized members of society, but as a taxpayer and parent of two students in the public schools, I have always advocated fairly in the interests of parents with a wide variety of viewpoints. I am deeply cognizant of the major concerns and issues affecting our schools and community.” Recently, Mr. Rosenblum served on the search committee for the new Director of Pupil Services, and he has completed multiple training workshops on a variety of topics including education law. He is the parent of a seventh grader at Mt. Hebron School and a second grader at Bradford School.
Ms. Coke, whose three children will be spread across the school system at Hillside Elementary, Glenfield Middle and Montclair High School next year, has lived in Montclair for eleven years, and has consistently volunteered in many capacities. She has served on School Review, PTAs, the Board of Education’s Transportation Working Group, as well as the Integration Working Group, which revamped school-assignment procedures. Since 2005, she has been a Trustee of IMANI/College Advocacy Center. “We moved to Montclair primarily because of its system of high quality, integrated magnet schools. Our district’s commitment to educational equity in an integrated setting is unique in a country that is increasingly abandoning these principles”. Ms. Coke works professionally to provide strategic planning and program development for non-profits and philanthropies and has extensive background reviewing and managing multi-million dollar budgets. Her practice has brought her in close contact with many of the country’s major players in education reform, including officers from the US Department of Education, national teachers unions, and leading education researchers and advocacy groups. “I look forward to contributing my policy and organizational skills to help our school system articulate a long-term vision and plan for sustaining high quality magnet schools and creating a top-flight high school that will attract and maintain a loyal following.”
“Once again, I am awed by the talents and skills of the volunteers who offer their services to our school system”, says Mayor Fried. “Ms. Coke and Mr. Rosenblum each bring with them a wealth of experience in Montclair’s schools but beyond that, bring knowledge and perspective from the State and national educational worlds as well. They will join our outstanding Board of Education, which has worked tirelessly to preserve the quality of our schools in the face of State funding cuts and other huge challenges. I am deeply indebted to the Advisory Committee, which continued its excellent work this year. I believe that the majority of Montclair residents support our system of Mayoral appointments because we have brought together some of the best educational minds in our Township to work together on assembling a dedicated leadership team.”
(Photo: Mayor Fried / Baristanet)