Montclair Board Formally Begins Investigation Into Breach of Assessments


When Penny MacCormack began her job as Montclair Schools Superintendent on November 1, 2012, she had to deal with the aftermath of a hurricane.  One year to the day later, she and the Montclair Board of Education met in an emergency session to deal with the aftermath of a different kind of storm—the breach of the assessments.

The Montclair School board voted unanimously to approve an investigation and hearings into the breach of 14 of the 60 interim assessments, that were leaked a week earlier and posted on a website.  Attorney Mark Tabakin was selected to conduct the investigation, and the resolution gave him the authority to issue subpoenas to relevant parties to provide documents and appear before the board to testify on the breach.  Dr. MacCormack, whose grim expression mirrored the gravity of the situation, did not make any statements or comments.

Board of Education President Robin Kulwin told reporters after the vote that the board took the leak seriously enough to authorize an investigation according to standard procedure.  She did not want the board to be seen as adopting a “scattergun approach” to the matter.

The board was united in getting the investigation started as quickly as possible.  Board member David Cummings  said that he would have preferred an outside investigator without any connection to the board, but he recognized the need to get the investigation started sooner rather than later.  Board member Norman Rosenblum noted that Tabakin is working for the “Board of Education, not the Administration, not anybody else.”  He said he saw no reason to doubt the sincerity of Tabakin’s findings after all the legal counsel he had offered to the school board in the past.  “You’re not here to have any other axe to grind other than to find the truth of what happened here,” he said to Tabakin, “whether this disbursement onto a website was partially accidental, whether it was a failure within our own system, or whether someone deliberately downloaded it and then posted online.”

Attorney Mark Tabakin and BoE President Kulwin

Tabakin assured the board that he would conduct a fair investigation and impartial hearings to get to the truth of the matter, without any preconceived notions.  “Where this goes, it goes,” he said.  It’s going to be a very wide net.”

Tabakin also expressed confidence that evidence of the breach in the form of e-mails or downloads would be found, opining that anyone in possession of such evidence would not want to erase it and be subject to claims of obstruction of justice.

Though not a criminal attorney, Tabakin said he has access to former prosecutors and criminal lawyers who work for his firm, as well as outside contractors such as information technology forensic experts, who will help him with his probe.

“The full weight of my firm will be made available to this investigation,” he said.  “There’s no possibility that this will be a one-man show.”  Tabakin hopes to start as soon as Monday, November 4.

Kulwin has opined that the breach might be internal.  She told reporters after the meeting that the tests were kept in a secure, password-protected computer portal, making it highly unlikely that the information was hacked by an outsider.

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  1. “Tabakin assured the board that he would conduct a fear investigation…”

    “fear investigation,” we can only wish. Though I’m sure the person who “leaked” this is in fear.

    But perhaps he said, “fair”?

  2. >>>Kulwin…..She told reporters after the meeting that the tests were kept in a secure, password-protected computer portal, making it highly unlikely that the information was hacked by an outsider.<<<

    That has got to be the funniest thing I have read all day.

  3. so if it’s unlikely that the tests were hacked, doesn’t that make it likely that it was a central office accident or mistake? if that’s the case, i will hold my breath waiting for the mayor and shelley lombard to apologize for implying that it was done by someone looking to cheat or sabotage.

  4. This little detail is interesting since we are about to spend a few dollars casting an expensive wide net:

    “Kulwin has opined that the breach might be internal. She told reporters after the meeting that the tests were kept in a secure, password-protected computer portal, making it highly unlikely that the information was hacked by an outsider.”


    By the way this comment needs a little clarification:

    “Tabakin also expressed confidence that evidence of the breach in the form of e-mails or downloads would be found, opining that anyone in possession of such evidence would not want to erase it and be subject to claims of obstruction of justice.”

    My understanding as I heard this is that Tabakin was referring to Penny and the board members. If you attended the meeting (and I am sure most of you did), let me know your thoughts.

    Judah MaccB

  5. I don’t know, maybe it’s just that i’m ignorant, but should Mr. Tabakin find that this “wide net” he is casting actually finds that CO was at fault here, um…are we to suspect that we will actually find that information out? Isn’t his acting as the investigative lead not really independent of the BOE?

  6. Why did The Barista leave off Tabackin’s casting of a wide net warning as reported in “we’ll be issuing subpoenas to websites, and to the blogs, and to people who may or may not have information about how the unauthorized release of these assessments occurred.” I guess this would include Barista, Patch, and anybody with a computer in Mtc. Nothing like a little fear to get people to start pointing fingers. And just in case anyone wakes up in the middle of the night with a case of bad conscience, Mr. Tabackin has included in the article, a snitch hotline.

  7. I Hope that the town will not end up spending another $400K on this investigation. I would have hoped the BOE find a way to determine whether the leak was an internal error before casting a “wide net.” I think there is more value in getting the right IT assistance to plug the holes in the network security. Has that been done? The damage is already done. It is great to investigate, assuming we have the financial resources. But should the financial resources not go first to fixing this network security issue? When all is said and done, would we end up spending of $1 million to $2 million (or more) to create the assessments, investigate the leak, create new assessments and fix the network security problem? Is this worth it? Can the BOE just refer this matter to law enforcement and let them handle it and not pour more money down the drain? I am not a lawyer or law enforcement person, but has the district even discuss the matter with the police? I am just wondering!!

  8. ” the resolution gave him the authority to issue subpoenas ”

    Can a school board issue subpoenas, or delegate that authority to its counsel?

  9. And just to get too far ahead of ourselves: IF this investigation is able to determine conclusively who leaked the tests (and how and when), don’t expect the board to be able to do much, to impose any accountability. I anticipate that work rules, and contractual guarantees will protect the responsible party or parties against disciplinary actions of any real consequence.

  10. The full weight of my firm will be made available to this investigation = $ $ $!!! That’s like lawyer speak for “we will be billing you up the yazoo.” Wish the funds we are abt to spend on this could have been made available for assemblies, field trips, extracurriculars, enrichment, funding magnets more fully, improving school lunches, implementing a solid world languages program….

  11. @waltermitty, all that was said yesterday afternoon is hot air from a legal perspective.

    Federal Rules for Civil Procedures, Rule 45. Subpoena:
    Issued by Whom. The clerk (of the court) must issue a subpoena, signed but otherwise in blank, to a party who requests it. That party must complete it before service. An attorney also may issue and sign a subpoena as an officer of:

    (A) a court in which the attorney is authorized to practice; or

    (B) a court for a district where a deposition is to be taken or production is to be made, if the attorney is authorized to practice in the court where the action is pending.

    The BoE had no authority to “authorize” a legal investigation.

    Mr. Tabakin has no more right to ask you or the US President to talk to him or show him your computer or even shake his hand than does my Labrador. Even the employees of the Montclair School District are under no legal obligation to participate in this charade. The MEA should provide their members with immediate legal advice to avoid them being unwittingly caught up in a mess having done nothing wrong.

    You can do so if you want. If you are really naive and really a fool, and you really think this might help, then go ahead. Call the hotline he posted in the Montclair Times, go talk to him on tape, show him your computer, be utterly stupid. If he finds on your computer or phone a song or movie or anything else that was illegally downloaded by you or your 10 year old daughter or a computer virus, he needs to legally report it to the police. If you say, I received this e-mail with the tests attached –> oops. If you say, I read the attachment –> oops. If you say I printed it and then somehow I saw my daughter reading it with a friend from her class –> wow. These people are in desperate need of a culprit (you saw how they already went after one of their own, Mr. Cummings).

    At the very least, no one should say anything to Mr. Tabakin before discussing the situation fully with a lawyer and, only then, ensuring that their lawyer is present for any discussions involving this investigation and fully approves any materials transferred to the investigation.

    The only things serious about yesterday’s BoE meeting were the carpets and brooms the Superintendent and the BoE members carried in. Nothing of value exited that room (except the tax dollars of the “progressive” Montclairians).

  12. So at 4 pm on a Friday evening, the day after Halloween, the Montclair Board of Education (with as little notice as possible) sneaks into Superintendent MacCormack’s conference room carrying brooms and a carpets. No wonder people talk about a witch hunt.

    And just who is hunting witches now? Why the paid for by the BoE Attorney Mark Tabakin. He will lead this “fear investigation” (yes, it was “only” a typo). Note that this is the same attorney who publicly stated that BoE Member Leslie Larson has “no conflict of interest” in giving taxpayer money to the Uncommon Schools (chartered schools) where her husband sits on the Board. Mr. Tabakin’s advice to the Engelwood School Board was already in the past shot down by the School Ethics Commission of New Jersey. One could go on.

    BoE President Kulwin said that this was “a full and independent investigation.” So you hire an attorney who has made his living for years working for the BoEu, give him extra money, and expect “a full and independent investigation.” Mr. Tabakin will likely now tell us that he has no conflict of interest and is fully independent. Believed that.

    Ms. Kulwin told The Montclair Times “This was the first opportunity that we had to meet as a board and authorize an investigation.” Really? The first opportunity? And finally an investigation is authorized (a week later?). According to Superintendent MacCormack and the BoE, the most important asset in the children’s education is completely compromised and they spend a week not being able to meet.

    Ms. Kulwin then told a different story to Patch, that the meeting could not be held earlier because a 24 hour notice was needed (so happy to see she as well as Superintendent MacCormack are reading my posts). However, we know this is not true thanks to the very good legal work of kyle41181 who informed us that there are provisions for an Emergency Meeting which requires only 3/4 of the BoE members to approve a meeting at the drop of a dime. So why did they not meet at 4 pm a week ago on Friday when they all knew about it and knew an investigation was needed? Or 5 pm or 6 pm or 10 pm? Why did they wait more than a week to investigate?

    But wait, an investigation was already ongoing (and not “authorized”?). Superintendent MacCormack stated on October 27th that “An investigation is underway as to how this breach occurred.” (And you can still read her statement on the Montclair School website.) She followed this up by telling news sources, including the New York Times, that “a full legal investigation” was underway. So what are the results of this “full legal investigation” that Superintendent MacCormack carried out? Where is the report of her activities and the “legal investigation’s” activities of the past week? Did anything happen? Or was a week needed to scrub up first?

    This is nothing but a Halloween hoax a day too late. Over the legal nonsense of what was said at the meeting, there is more than enough fodder for an entirely new comedy. Talk of subpenas and forcing people to talk and running around the town and the state and the nation casting a spider web, cracking open private computers or gaining access to Yahoo or Google or Comcast servers is hardly to be believed. It is a silencing investigation, it is a sweeping the truth under the carpet investigation, it is a “fear investigation.” This is the best thing that ever hit tinsel town for Superintendent MacCormack and the BoE because no matter what is asked now, about anything, they can say “we have to await the results of the ongoing investigation.”

    And how long will that be? No one knows. We only know it will be long long long. Where will it lead: nowhere. How much will it cost? Another bond? Is there a fixed budget? a limit? Will this force Mr. Tabakin into a higher tax bracket this year? And next year too? The Montclair taxpayers are just so generous.

    Frank Rubacky, you compared this not so long ago to what would have happened in a corporation. Surely the board of a corporation would never have waited a full week to meet if their most important asset was compromised beyond usefulness. They might have wait three or four days (even that seems long). Then they would have asked the CEO for the results of the investigation. Unless the CEO could demonstrate that they had taken all possible steps to secure that asset, even if it was stolen, that CEO would have been given a nicely prepared resignation letter and a pen and then escorted out of the office by security. Then, for sure, a full legal investigation would begin. And it would not be carried out by a school board lawyer.

    Are the Montclair “progressives” really no more than pretenders, sheep on the side of a hill who value their short commute to the slaughterhouse?

  13. Nope, nope, and nope.

    I dislike theft. I really do. But what the heck is going on here? They hired a lawyer to investigate the theft of a poorly designed assessment that itself appears to have been, at least in part, copied/plagiarized (some would stay “stolen”) from at state website? This is how we’re spending money that is supposed to educate our children?

    I was under the impression that there was already a group that was paid by taxpayers whose focus was the prevention and detection of crime. They are called the police. There are, in fact, police officers at Glenfield School if the school board would like to contact them.

  14. So why have the police not been informed or asked to lead an investigation? Why? Surely some wise person (maybe someone with a Solomon moment?) could tell us why there has been no formal complaint made to the police or request for an investigation?

    After all they do have an office in a school and they do have a police officer assigned to Montclair High School. So why the need to clean this up internally? Is someone afraid of what will be found?

    If Superintendent MacCormack even suspects theft of town property is she not obligated to report it? If she does not, is she not in neglect of duty?

    If your child’s bike is locked on your back porch and it goes missing, you report it. It could turn out that a friend of your son gave the combination to borrowed it or that your husband threw it away a month ago and forgot, but you still report it before you solve the mystery.

    Now if $400,000 (probably closer to a million dollars) goes missing, you do . . . nothing? You don’t inform the police?

    The school district’s problem is responsibility and accountability at the very top.

  15. Why is this seeming more and more like the Nixon Administration? The obsessive search for the leakers, the constant attempt to root out enemies, the paranoia, the “I am not a crook” defensiveness (“I live in NJ”, “I did not need to do principal evaluations”), the hubris and arrogance, the continuous justification rather than reflection, the rigidity, the tone deafness to the surrounding culture, the insularity, the secrecy, the scorched earth methodology. Perhaps most disconcerting is the money that is pouring out of Central Office (no, “Central Support” is not an accurate term). Millions have been spent on consultants, central office staff, writing assessments and now a law firm. And if they find out who released it will it improve the education of our students? Will the money be better spent on a toothless law firm rather than wasting it on things like textbooks or art materials? If this is a criminal activity, then let the police deal with it. If you want to spend this kind of money on discovery, why not spend it on some of the things outlined in the strategic plan, like surveys of teachers, students and parents as to whether we are headed in the right direction?

  16. For the last few years this town has been locked in a constant conflict over the strategic direction of our schools. We have the BOE, the MEA, and community groups trying to advance their views on what is in the best interest of our community. This has been going on for over two years. I think it is time to call a truce. Why not start a real dialogue among the different groups, take the best ideas and try to move our school district beyond this constant “war.” This latest episode is not pleasant at all. Seems like there has been constant sniping, more problems erupting, lots of money being spent, and we are not really getting anywhere. Maybe someone or one of the active groups has tried this before to no avail (I do not know). What I can say is that what is going on right now is unsustainable. I know that every interest-group may feel that their views are correct. One thing is certain: the last two years have been relatively non-productive with lots of money being spent. Time for this crap to stop.

  17. Kulwin says this investigation will follow “standard procedure.” Is it standard to endow imaginary legal subpoena power to the Board’s own attorney?

  18. According to all the cop shows I’ve been watching on TV for the past few decades, the first thing an investigator does is consider motives.

    What are plausible motives in this case? Perhaps a student wanted the tests for purposes of cheating? We can eliminate this motive because the tests were posted for all to see, removing any advantage the perpetrator would have had. Or perhaps someone wanted to undermine the whole testing program (which was in fact the result).

    Who could have done such a thing? Plenty of people hate the testing program. Perhaps one of them hacked the portal and stole the tests? It’s possible, but that’s a criminal act and requires some technical savvy. Someone on the inside–someone in the circle of trust who was vouchsafed the passwords to the portal where the tests were kept–could have gotten hold of the tests simply by using their password. We know that a wide variety of people who had access to the tests, including teachers and administrators. We also know that some teachers and administrators are opposed to the program, so it’s conceivable that some in the circle of trust were also opposed.

    In what way could the break-in have been due primarily to CO incompetence? Since we know the tests were password protected, we can discount that particular form of negligence. Perhaps someone in CO logged in and left their computer to take a pee and while they were away someone stole the tests. It’s not likely the CO posted the test results online by mistake, since that scenario is ridiculous.

    There we have it. In the immortal words of a TV character from my youth who name is lost in the sands of time: Draw your own contusions.

  19. @ heisenberg, you do know how your series ended, right?

    Here though, the Nixon analogy is good because he downfall began with a simple break in- here, we have a simple “leak.” To claim this is some grand operation is off, it’s the normal course of business when an organization finds what was access protected material mishandled.

    This investigation (and I still like the idea of a “fear” investigation) is a big deal because someone breached a trust, and from what the BOE says, they did it illegally.

    Therefore, this seems like a perfectly suited and measured response.

  20. Correction Adjunct Prof. Pomposio:

    It has also been the normal course of business to hide embarrassing mistakes. The investigation suggests an illegal breach but we/you know nothing yet. If it was a mistake or incompetence was it necessarily illegal? I would take what the ‘BOE says’ with a huge grain of salt.

    Your student,

    Judah MaccB

  21. @looloo, You are really funny when it comes to one-liners. I lover reading them and love you for it. But go beyond one-liners and everything resembling intelligence disappears and you appear no better than profwilliams.

    If this is criminal it should be with the police. It is not. You have either watched too much of Starsky and Hutch reruns or not enough. In any event, you completely fail to see that you are being blindsided by really dumb dumb dumb people.

    If the “security breach” was criminal, it would have been by the police a long time ago. Superintendent MacCormack and the BoE want do do everything possible to prevent an objective investigation. This is completely understandable given that they are all politically tied together. One falls, they all fall.

    They are so lucky to have such a foolish “progressive” bunch of town folks to allow them to run the schools into the ground and the tax bills into the sky. Enjoy paying for this fiasco for years and years and years and years and years and years (oops, you plan to leave town in five years) to come.

    This is so much the mentality of the progressive Montclairians: spend, spend, spend without any accountability and then build the most ugly buildings you can think of believing that people will come to Montclair to pay your debt. Good luck.

  22. @profwilliams Praising this investigation destroys all that is good in Montclair. What is it that Superintendent MacCormack and the Board of Education (with Mr. Tabakin) are after: simply fear and mistrust. There was never, in any way, a “legal investigation” since October 27. That was completely made up. There is no report. Not even a formal complaint to the police. It was and is a charade.

    Anyone can hire their own personal lawyer to investigate anything they want, including the ghosts in Thierney’s. The Board of Education has no, zero, legal ground on which to start a “legal investigation.” Superintendent MacCormack also cannot.

    On Patch there is claimed the following: “The resolution passed unanimously by the board states that if a district employee or employees were found to be responsible they could lose their jobs.” Can anyone post the “resolution?” It would be fun to read. In any event, this is clearly another example of the BoE not understanding it’s legal mandate and going outside its limits. It just shows a group of incompetent people circling the wagons.

    This is a witch hunt, nothing more and nothing less. The town will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars looking for witches in the same place some of the BoE members regularly visit to drown their sorrows. It is empty and stupid. You hope to find a “culprit.” So too does the BoE and Mr. Tabakin. This solves nothing. In the meantime the once good schools of Montclair are failing all the children, not just those on one or the other side of the curve of the invented “achievement gap” but all the children.

    Worse, Superintendent MacCormack and the Board of Education with their invented “legal investigation” and “subpoenas” and “nets’ are deliberating trying to divide this community and to make everyone suspicious of everyone, even the good profwilliams. Can you imagine? This is East Germany in the 1960’s. It is really sad, but also very destructive to the community.

    They have not only lost control. What they are doing is truly sinister. If you love this town, which is difficult to see through all your pretense, you might well think again about what is going on here.

    profwilliams, you and agideon are my only heros. Please please save us all.

  23. It’s not about education. It’s about defending small bits of shaky turf and trying to distract everyone from the simple fact that the board isn’t qualified and the superintendent is a power-mad control freak. Poor board; poor hiring decision. Just generally poor. The real estate agents and tax payers won’t be happy as the Montclair school system myth further tarnishes.

  24. Oh oh the pangs of guilt. Someone is surely going to say that the “opposition” (those who want good education in Montclair) are undermining this million dollar, brilliant investigation cooked up by Superintendent MacCormack and the Board of Education.

    So here a Modest Proposal: For the next Board of Education Meeting on November 18th (assuming there is no crisis in the next 2 and a half weeks), everyone should attend with brooms and carpets. We need to support this investigation. Everyone: district administrators, teachers, parents, students and all the town folks (even the mayor). Everyone bring a broom and/or a carpet to help them sweep the mess under the carpet and identify the town’s witches.

    A recommendation for all the witches in Montclair: Mr. Tabakin has never had much success before in subpenaing witches so please please help him: The witches are kindly asked to use some of those nifty yellow Post-Its that Superintendent MacCormack employs for her brilliant “wisdom sharing” moments. Just write clearly and boldly: “I am a witch.” And paste on your forehead or coat or blouse so you can be easily recognized.

    Let us all support this investigation.

    (Also check your backyards for kindle to bring to the stakes.)

  25. oliver just when I think things can’t get any more ridiculous I read your post. The so-called leaker would have to be someone more like you.

    idratherbeat63 you keep posting and asking questions. It annoys people like leaky oliver.

  26. @oliver Call Mr. Tabakin 973-403-1100. Tell him your found the witch. He needs your help.

    You have drunk from the witch’s brew cooked up by Superintendent MacCormack, the Board of Education and Mr. Tabakin the day after Halloween. You may have done so unwittingly, but now you have become intoxicated. You are foaming at the mouth and pointing your finger at broomsticks flying through the air. It would all be comical; however, your behavior is toxic to civility and democracy in the community.

    This fear investigation is communist East Germany in the 1960’s. Everyone ratting out their neighbors, just as the BoE members tried a few days ago with Mr. Cummings. Like you 90% of the complaints were from people having a bad day and wanting to ruin the life of someone they did not like. (The other 10% were people giving garbage information just to be with the system.) This atmosphere never leads to a reasonable and truthful society.

    Something went terribly wrong a week ago on Friday in Central Services. We are not being told what it was, but we do know that it has impacted hugely on the education of Montclair’s children and it is costing the taxpayer dearly.

    Unfortunately, Superintendent MacCormack and the Board of Education and Mayor Jackson decided not to open “a full legal investigation,” but rather to poison the waters of the community by creating a fear investigation, promoting suspicion and distrust among good neighbors. They surely have their reasons for this.

    These people would like nothing more than for us all to behave the way Twana Davisson told us to: “I beg the parents and community leaders: leave the educational discussion and debate to our educators. Let’s support them in every way possible. Let’s speak highly of them to our children. Let’s attend BOE meetings simply to listen, learn, and ask what we can do to support our educational experts.” They want people to be afraid to voice reasonable objections, even when supported by true expertise and evidence in education. They deliberately wanted to make people afraid to express their opinions on the Internet or at the Bluestone because people like you would start to call them a witch. You, oliver, are at their beck and call.

    So oliver, go ahead and be the first. Pick up that stone and cast it at the first person who creates the least amount of displeasure in your life of pretense.

    (Btw, I do care. You appear naive and no one should take advantage of that. So, please, for your own good and the well being of your family, consult a reputable attorney before dialing that number.)

    @jmaccb oliver surely did not leak the tests. He is a nice guy and he would never do such a thing. After a week of a high profile “legal investigation” with no results, the most likely explanation is incompetence.

  27. Please refrain from calling other commenters names. If you choose to disrespect and/or insult people in that manner, your comment will be deleted.

    You are free to disagree with other commenters in a respectful manner. Personal attacks will not be tolerated.

  28. Georgette,
    If you are going to sanitize comments then make sure it is fair. Have you seen what many here have said to Idratherbeat63? Make sure you jump in on those also.

  29. Mtcmom,

    I am watching all comments. Your comments are an example of respectful disagreement.

    Comments that personally attack others by name calling or sarcastically making fun of someone will not be tolerated.

  30. When I saw that my dear friend agideon (aka Andrew Gideon) was quoted in The Star Ledger, I was so proud. Why I just had to run out and hug profwilliams – on a Sunday, imagine that. He did our town proud. And just think, he is one “in the middle.” Oh my, all along I had taken him for a teabagger. (I wonder who recommended that The Star Ledger contact Mr. Andrew Gideon to represent “the middle” of this discussion. Any guesses?)

    The highlight of the article was Board of Education President Kulwin saying that “MacCormack was ‘far and away’ the best candidate who applied for the job, one that comes with a state-mandated salary cap that was $50,000 below what the former official was slated to be paid.” Wow, someone who just completed there EdD in time to apply for the job, who had no experience as a school superintendent, and who has a track record of short stays in previous jobs (with very interesting community appreciation after her departure). I guess it really shows just how terrible Montclair must be if this was “the best candidate.”

    It was also interesting to read that Superintendent MacCormack told The Star Ledger that she had spent $490,000 on the copy and paste of the tests that were compromised (that at least is what the independent investigation of The Star Ledger reporter found for the 5th grade tests). Superintendent MacCormack told the town’s people that it cost $400,000. But what’s a hundred thousand dollars here or there if the Montclair taxpayer is paying you a quarter of a million dollars a year plus a pension for the rest of her life that most hard working people never see in a half year of working. (Oh oh oh. And she had to accept $50,000 less than the former superintendent. Only a quarter of a million dollars a year for someone who just finished their degree. Life is just never fair.)

    What is interesting about this “security breach” is that we are slowly learning that the “leaked” tests, on Montclair School District letterhead it is rumored, were largely plagiarized from NJASK. And indeed between the vast majority and 100% of the questions, depending on the test, were already online. I just cannot imagine the embarrassment poor Mr. Tabakin is going to have asking a New Jersey judge to subpoena little Mary from the 7th grade at Hillside for having dared read questions already placed in the public domain by her state government. He must be one brilliant lawyer.

    Notice too, the $490,000 that Superintendent MacCormack first claimed was spent for the development of the assessments (then she only stated $400,000) is now claimed by her, in the The Star Ledger article, as being used for curriculum development. It is just a matter of point of view, one would say.

  31. idratherbeat63 I responded to one of your posts earlier today, but Georgette censored the entire post. She also removed my objections to her, which were not objectionable in their tone. Georgette does not like “personal attacks.” I will let her comment stand on its own.

    My post to you was a satirical response to the so-called ‘leak.’
    Maybe Georgette can forward the post to you or anyone else interested in my comments. I can also provide a Tabakin-proof email address and send the comments directly to you. It was some of my best writing. 🙂

    Judah MaccB

  32. Idrathrerbeat63

    It is interesting that we know there were other candidates who applied. But MacCormack was the best. based on what? Her record with the achievement gap? Well, Hartford did not close nor improve their scores. So was it that she promised this board to “test our kids to learn” approach that also happens to double as a dubious HR tool to use on teachers? We must now ask this question–is this board jot of step with our community? Or was it her connection to Cerf and all the corporate reformers who live in town?
    And where is our mayor on this?

  33. JDMaccb

    I am sorry Georgette removed your post. It was an obviously humorous post that made interesting points. I would hope that she will put the post up again and not censor. Otherwise, she appears to take sides in this debate by censoring some and not others.

  34. @Judah MaccB, thank you for the kind note. I did not see your post, but I am sure I would have appreciated it. I also appreciated the support from mtclmom

    Georgette also censored one of my posts today and a while back she censored another post I had written. On both occasions I did not fully agree with Georgette, but I understood well why she did so.

    When I read the articles on Baristanet/Kids, I can have the impression sometimes that the editorial perspective here is different from mine. But that does not bother me. In fact, I appreciate it. Georgette is super intelligent and deft in her writing and editing. I can learn from her.

    Most importantly this is the most free and open forum in Montclair to discuss some serious and difficult issues. I can imagine that Georgette comes under considerable pressure to tow the line in one way or another. I admire her commitment to open discussion. Frankly, I have no idea where she stands on issues. I find it laudable that she can achieve this.

    I much prefer that Georgette censors me than those who disagree with me. It is easy to cross a line when you want to play close to the line. I am happy to read what those who disagree with me (or you or mtclmom) have to say. When they bring new and interesting ideas or evidence to the discussion, I am ecstatic. If they show me that I am wrong, I am over the moon. There is nothing better than being taught to see things more clearly. Often too their assault reveals more than they would have otherwise wanted to. (For example, agideon revealing that he was pivy to inside information about the BoE’s lawyer being involved in the firing of the Glenfield Principal. How he knew that the BoE had crossed this legal line, I am still waiting to hear back from him on.)

    The town is better for open discussion, even including those who are against open discussion.

    Frankly, you and mtclmom are better at this than I am. My days here are surely numbered. Focus on what is important and good for the neighborhood. Montclair Cares about Schools is a strong and intelligent movement. I have no doubt that they, along with others like yourselves, will carry the day.

    Montclair is a great town. This not simply because of its houses or its transportation or its “diversity” or being “progressive,” but because Montclair has always been able to lead, even when it was not out in the front.

    We do well to appreciate what Georgette brings to the town.

    Your writing is always good. Sorry to have missed some of the better parts of it, but I’m sure the best is still to come. I am not interested in a Tabakin-proof e-mail address. I really would so much appreciate someone else reading all the boring e-mails I receive. Surely if he ever wants to pass by, I would be pleased to go and have coffee with him (suit and all). If he shows up with a tape recorder or a subpoena he printed in his car, he will be sorely disappointed.

    glenfield dad posted here something valuable earlier today: “Why not start a real dialogue among the different groups . . . . What I can say is that what is going on right now is unsustainable.” I think this was the best post of the day. This situation is not sustainable.

    The problem is, as I see it, if you compare the “opposition” to the the leadership, then you can see that those who understand the town and understand education are not the ones in power. Those in power, both Superintendent MacCormack and the members of the Board of Education, cannot win in an open debate because they lack both the knowledge and the experience. Again, look at Montclair Cares about Schools. Or look at what Montclair BoE Vice President Shelley Lombard said about the excellent MEA Town Hall and Dr. Walter C. Farrell (and do look at my last posting there just to make it clear).

    So I just do not see how glenfielddad can get his wish: I do not see how those in power who do not know will sit at the table with the teachers and the towns people in an open, reasonable, civil, respectful, democratic (add what you want) discussion. They are already too much invested in the unwise course they took. They probably feel they have too much to lose in a rational discussion.

    In any event I am willing to allow Georgette to censor my comments if it helps to ensure that this open forum can survive.

  35. Mtclrmom!

    That is very nice of you to come to my defense. I’m a little verklempt…

    Georgette is free to take sides, and she has obviously felt it necessary to censor me. I disagree with many people on this forum and find many comments insulting, but I would never ask Georgette to censor any posts – even if I am the direct target of the insult. People should be free to speak in their own voices, and this forum has had a kind of self-correcting way of neutralizing discussions that stray from the important topics being debated. If my posts ruffle feathers others will step in to add their own perspectives and criticisms (I have certainly been the target of insults).
    The thing that bothered me the most about Georgette’s censorship of my earlier post is that my post was a biting satirical comment about the so-called ‘leaks.’ I removed the names that Georgette found somehow insulting and she still kept the post off of this thread. She also removed my objections to her which seems a bit excessive. By the way, one name on the earlier post was a fictitious character I have created as a parody; the other name was a person who questioned whether or not someone on this thread was the ‘leaker.’ Knowing how the town is threatening to subpoena residents the inappropriate ‘leaker’ comment seems a much more damaging type of post. Yet, I did not ask Georgette to remove it, and the intended target of that ‘insult’ provided an adequate response. It allowed for a richer discussion. I sincerely hope Georgette restores my earlier post.

    Until Georgette finally removes me from this forum Judah MaccB will continue to post his biting, satirical, and fiery comments/responses.
    I Gotta Be…MaccB

  36. idratherbeat63! Thanks for your all your posts.

    Whatever you do – please do not leave this forum! I don’t just read your posts – I study them.

    I agree with you and appreciate what Georgette brings to this town too, but the post she removed was some of my best work. I had to do spell check more than five times.

    You may know that my name resembles another famous Judah. He stood against a mighty ancient army that wanted to defile the temple in his town. In other words, that ancient army wanted to change the culture of a place by imposing its own will and idols. Yet, those vandals hadn’t counted on the ancient Judah’s determination to set things right. The invading army was defeated and Judah and his people regained control of the temple.

    As you know, all change begins with a small group of committed people willing to make sacrifices for the next generation. I can’t wait for the success of our revolt to be celebrated. That new celebration probably won’t include anything flammable like candles, because our celebration will involve Frank’s flammable gin, freestyle dancing, and products with gluten.

    Thanks for everything idratherbeat63!

    Peace, Judah MaccB