Updated: Montclair Township Council Denies School Board Access to Server For Part of the Investigation

Montclair Township Council

UPDATE: Board Vice President Shelley Lombard contacted Barista Kids to respond publicly, on behalf of herself, on the Council’s vote to deny the Board access to its shared server.

“We really need to understand how our system was breached and learn about its security. We keep highly confidential data on that server, if there was a security breach, we need to know.” She added that since the Township shares a server with the district, “I don’t know how they’re so confident that their own security hasn’t been compromised.”

On some of the council members decision to vote against access, she said, “I cannot understand how two heads of teacher’s unions and an MFEE employee, don’t appreciate the importance of protecting data of our children and keeping student confidentiality.”

At last night’s Township Council meeting, which included the closed session meeting of the Montclair Board of Education and the council regarding the investigation of assessments leaks, the council publicly voted to deny the Board access to a network joint server as part of the assessment leak investigation 5-2, with only Mayor Jackson and First Ward Councilman Bill Hurlock voting in favor of allowing them access.

Councilor Hurlock explained his vote to Barista Kids, “From my standpoint, I didn’t think that there was a basis for us to proclude the BoE access for entrance into a jointly shared server. Much like, in the future, if the Council or municipal services, needed to get access.” He added, “I think they’re entitled to access on their own server.”

Deputy Mayor Robert Russo said he voted against allowing the Board access because, “It’s time to move on, stop spending time and mounting legal fees, and end the divisive conflict in town over these tests. Let’s focus on teaching and healing our community.”

Third Ward Councilor Spiller replied, “”The decision to deny access was driven by the unfortunate fact that this issue has pitted neighbor against neighbor and has created a divide in our community. A majority of us on the Council simply felt that as leaders, it is time to look for ways to come together. This current process seems only to be pushing families further apart from one another and solutions further away.”

The district and Township’s data are on a shared server, but is separated except for archived emails. The network administrator is Alan Benezra, a former computer science teacher at Montclair High School, who now resides in Boulder, Colorado, but still holds the position he was given many years ago from the district. His salary is paid for 95% by the BoE and 5% by the Township.

According to Board President Robin Kulwin, the senior staff member responsible for technology in the district worked with the Township to set up the shared server many years ago, under a prior Director of Personnel for the Montclair Board of Education and Superintendent Alvarez.

“The MBOE has been informed that archived email data on this shared server exists in separate and distinct segments of the server:  one for the BOE and one for the Township.  However, all archived e-mails for the Township and the Board of Education are co-mingled on the system, Kulwin explained to Barista Kids. “In conducting its investigation of the inappropriately released testing materials, the MBOE is concerned with access to the District’s own data and information narrowly focused on the released information, not with Township emails or data,”  she added.

When asked why would the BoE have to go to the Council for access to its own information, Kulwin explains, “We did not know the Township was voting on anything.  We were told that the meeting was pro forma and access should not be an issue.  We were there at the invitation of the Mayor to give an update. This is something that will be looked into. The problem is that the servers are physically located on Township property and we were trying to be good neighbors seeking to access our own property that is located in a Township facility.”

Kulwin says the Council’s vote to deny access will prevent the district from determining the circumstances surrounding the released materials. “It is a roadblock that is an extreme disservice to Montclair Public Schools educators, who worked on the materials, and to the 6,500 Montclair children they serve.  Giving that the personnel costs to administer the network is 95% borne by the District, it is also a disservice to every tax payer in Montclair.”

As part of the ongoing assessment leak investigation, Weiner Lesniak has brought in an IT forensic expert, as well as issue subpoenas for information.

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  1. This is a really, really bad knee-jerk decision by the Council. The Council needs to get some outside criminal attorney advice very quickly. This is not a 1st amendment issue. Now I almost feel compelled to file an OPRA request just to see what is in the archives.

    Pat G, can I use the email request?

  2. I wonder as well alic, but there may be some mistrust on the part of the council as to the motivation of the Super and the Board. They may suspect that it is a fishing expedition to get information that is not for the sole purpose of finding the source of the compromised documents.

    I would like to see the council allow access to the server, but only by outside investigators, and not the in-house lawyers working for the BOE.

    I share your concern Frank. Go man go. There’s no better person to look to than Pat for something like.

    And I completely disagree with Councilor Spiller and Deputy Mayor Russo, who I have always thought well of. It is way too late to move on. There are too many unanswered questions. There has to be transparency. They can’t just say never mind, move on. This speaks directly to the integrity of the Board and the Super and if they stop now questions will continue to linger. After all that has transpired, a real investigation, done by non-conflicted professionals, must be completed.

  3. Yes. I think the Council will regret holding that executive session before consulting, and then compounded the mistake by not having present, a criminal attorney. No offense to the Township Attorney, but he is not what they need right now.

  4. Stupid question SSP, but if the Township is preventing the BOE from accessing their own archived emails, then how – and who – do I file the OPRA request with?
    Doesn’t this make it a State law issue with an OPRA violation.
    This is getting messy.

    Pat G – any suggestions?

  5. I’m with you, State Street Pete–it is inappropriate for the council to allow the BOE’s lawyer access to the town’s servers. It might well be legitimate for an independent investigator to have access to them.

    The assessments that were accessed were accessed at the expense of the taxpayers who paid to have it developed, not the MBOE. And in this instance, the taxpayers’ interests and the MBOE’s are not aligned. If Mr. Tabakin’s investigation uncovers something that reflects poorly on the MBOE or the superintendent–or discovers something that opens them up to liability–I don’t know that we can trust him to reveal it. It would conflict with his role as the MBOE’s attorney.

    So far, Mr. Tabakin certainly seems to be using the investigation as a tool to further the political interests of the MBOE by issuing subpoenas to the MBOE’s critics. But again, this serves the interest of the MBOE only–not the taxpayers (who should be free to criticize or praise the MBOE as they wish).

    Personally, I’d like to see the breech investigated properly–but I do not believe this can happen unless an outside investigation is conducted. The MBOE had absolutely no business handing the investigation over to their own lawyer, and it was unethical of him to accept the job.

  6. I honestly am not sure where I come down on the BoE issuing of subpoenas as part of the investigation (and specifically the timing of those subpoenas), but the issue at the center of this discussion with the Township Council is not about the 1st amendment right of anonymous commenters or a debate whether the Common Core quarterly assessments are a brilliant idea or a weak one, it is about the School District’s ability to access to its OWN data on its OWN servers maintained by an employee compensated by Montclair Public Schools. Isn’t that what this boils down to?

    I would think that the District would not even have to subpoena its own employee; the employee would just need to respond to his employer’s request, (Montclair Public Schools) with the information asked for. The employee/network administrator does not own the server, the School District and Township do – and according to this report, 95% of the labor costs seem to be covered by Montclair Public Schools, with only 5% paid by the Township.

    I cannot imagine telling my employer that it has no right to information stored on the computer and/or computer system used by me for my job. They pay for and maintain it. If there is concern about co-mingled District and Township accounts, couldn’t boundaries be set – even if an independent arbiter is brought in – to keep the request narrowly focused on the information related to the public appearance of the tests? If nothing wrong was done, then why not open up the archive? Request another attorney, that doesn’t seem unreasonable, but to keep it locked up? That is not the best way to heal and move forward.

    I tried to flip this around to look at the situation from the other side. So to follow the Council’s logic here….. if a Township employee has a significant grievance with the Mayor, Council and/or Manager and decides s/he will absolutely not fulfill a request for releasing Township data from the joint server, it is legitimate for the Board of Education to vote to allow that employee to continue to go against his/her employer’s (the Township’s) requests. All with the stated intent of bringing the community together? That’s just nuts.

  7. Ok, let me say that I have absolutely no idea what this means, and I hope somebody can enlighten me. What does it mean to deny the BOE access? Does that mean they can’t go on the Internet? What can’t they do that they could do before? Kulwin’s statements sound like a bunch of gobbledygook.

  8. Our network administrator is in Boulder in a position he was “given” many years ago from the district. That is some sweatheart deal. Who monitors his time, ensures that he is performing all the duties necessary, etc. How do they do that? Could a local network administrator perhaps prevented the recent security breach? We will never know.

    Perhaps only a minor issue in the scheme of this big fiasco, but my goodness, who strikes these kind of deals?

  9. Agreed, I would love to live in Boulder and get paid by the township of Montclair. Wonder how much he makes.

    This seems like a roundabout way for the Council to express their disapproval of the BOE’s shenanigans. I would much rather they just stand up and say, “We don’t like how you’re wasting tax money, your breaching of our citizens’ First Amendment rights is unacceptable to us, you are making a mockery of this town and violating the values that Montclair has embodied for many years.” Hopefully that will be coming soon.

  10. And, Ms. Kulwin, speaking of “disservices to the community”, I would include throwing away our money persecuting thoughtful and concerned citizens who are voicing their opinions on public message boards.

  11. A completely “political” decision by the Council majority which is understandable given the mess the BOE allowed this to become. But that doesn’t make the vote right. Someone does needs to conduct an investigation, and at this point it should not be our over politicized BOE. Too much cross linkage now to the assessment policy itself.

    Why not start this like any investigator would and deal with the staff IT people already employed to report whether it was a “poster” or the cannibal web-site that steals files some have mentioned. Hello BOE. This is really not rocket science. You don’t need to spend thousands paying your attorney $250 per hour to run the investigation at the start. Go to your IT web people to at least do some basic diagnostics.

    An F for the BOE for not understanding the problem and proceeding on the right path to solve it. Council gets only a C for a passing grade to stymie the hot potato without dealing with the underlying problems.

  12. It seems the BOE attorney was not granted access as an independent contractor, but the Council can not prevent the MPS Central Office staff from accessing their archived files. A fine distinction, but still not illegal.

  13. All the MPS IT people have to do is go in and separate the archived MPS email files and move them over to the BOE side. Based on the desktop service agreement, I seriously doubt there are any contract specifications on the how/where/when MPS IT store data…and certainly not MPS data.

  14. Montclair: The Home of the Great Pretenders

    Those pretenders who support or excuse or think they are providing good advice to this MBoE have so little understanding of what happened at the Town Council meeting on Tuesday evening.

    Here is the text of the Town Council Resolution:

    “WHEREAS, the Montclair Board of Education (“BOE”) and the Township of Montclair (the “Township”) share the use of computer servers and maintain certain data in common databases; and

    “WHEREAS, the BOE is conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the appearance of confidential BOE data on a publicly-accessible website (the “Investigation”); and

    “WHEREAS, the BOE has asked the Township for permission to access shared databases in furtherance of the Investigation; and

    “WHEREAS, the Township Council finds that the Investigation is contributing to divisiveness and strife among the people of Montclair, is resulting in the diversion and expenditure of substantial funds, and is disrupting the otherwise productive working relationship between the Township and the BOE; and

    “WHEREAS, the Township Council finds that it is in the best interest of the people of Montclair for the Township to refuse to cooperate with or assist the Investigation in any way; and

    “WHEREAS, the Township Council finds that it is the public interest to deny the permission requested by the BOE, this denial being solely applicable to BOE access in connection with the Investigation; and

    “WHEREAS, the denial of permission is not intended to affect or limit the BOE’s access to or use of the shared servers and databases for any other purpose;

    “NOW, THEREFORE, be it RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Montclair that permission for the BOE to access shared computer servers and databases for the purpose of conducting the Investigation is denied.”

    See where this was first published: https://www.northjersey.com/news/235490711_Montclair_Township_Council_finalizes_resolution_denying_Board_of_Ed__access_to_joint_server.html?page=all#sthash.D05NCgTn.AJAGOS9G.dpuf

    And Frank Rubacky is actually providing advice to the MBoE as to how it can circumvent the Resolution of the Town Council. Does he also provide advice to car thieves on how to unlock locked car doors?

    Just to make it clear to the thieves: Permission denied (lock or no lock).

  15. IMHO this “investigation” is going about it all wrong. We already know the identity of the thief. It is with almost 100 percent certainty that http://www.gobookee.org is the culprit. The website profits from offering files it acquires from often illegal means–usually by scrubbing pdf files from unsuspecting victims. It is beyond ludicrous that our Board of Education is instead wasting our tax dollars by first going after citizens who are critical of the assessments. This one one expensive rabbit hole we’ve entered.

  16. OMG, they are both on Lotus Notes…the app that refuses to die.
    You do realize that absolutely nothing goes away or is deleted with that app on a piecemeal basis. It is the original All or Nothing app.

  17. @Frank Rubacky Frank, dear, let’s not make our shared affection and personal knowledge public talking points. Please. (PS Missed you too. The meeting was such a bore without you. xx)

  18. @complainerpuss I’m intrigued by what you say and the potential that these files were taken by the gobookee.org site. Do you have some sources on that that you can cite? Is that a viable explanation for why the assessments were there?

  19. I’m sure it’s no surprise I completely support the Counsel’s decision. The Board should have hired an outside investigator in the first place. They completely botched the investigation and is throwing away our money. Enough is enough. They refuse to go through proper channels and are behaving as though they are above the law. Kudos to the Counsel for taking a stand against this kind of behavior. They are using tax payer money for their own agenda and I see no where in their actions any concern for the students.

  20. Montclair: The Home of the Great Pretenders

    This Montclair Board of Education fiasco gets funnier and funnier by the day. But even funnier (sadder) are all these people whose tax money for so long has been misused and mismanaged continue to defend those in public office who abuse their authority and act unlawfully. This goes far beyond the ridiculous education and development policies they impose.

    The MBoE has lied to the public. They did not lie about what time they got out of bed to check their yahoo emails or what they had for breakfast; they have lied about their investigation into $500,000 worth of compromised assessments. And they lied at the very moment they were defending their unlawful investigation and deliberate attempts to trample free speech, and in response to the ACLU’s attempt to get these people to behave reasonably.

    The MBoE Vice-President, Shelly Lombard, told Patch on December 5, 2013, that “she was issued a subpoena and supplied the information that was requested of her, including emails.” https://montclair.patch.com/groups/schools/p/judge-blocks-school-board-subpoena-seeking-identity-of-anonymous-blogger

    The truth is no subpoena was ever issued for Shelly Lombard, let alone served. But we should not expect that the fact that people holding public office in Montclair lie will matter for so many people here. In the Land of the Great Pretenders, nothing is more important than A-list cocktail parties during the holiday season.

    All of this was supposed to be about education: about raising children, about bringing them up to be good and honest citizens, to contribute to their community and their country, and not care only about their mutual fund and their property values.

    Well, news to those who defend or excuse this MBoE, their school rankings are falling and their property values will fall too, however much you do or do not care about true education for your children. And they will fall even more as more people become aware of just what sort of town Montclair is.

    Just where is the Montclair NAACP? This is unbelievable that they are silent on the abuse of Constitutional rights. Are they waiting to know the pixels of the skin of the anonymous individuals targeted before reacting? How could they possibly have awarded the local Thurgood Marshall Award this year to a Mayor who went against his colleagues on the Town Council when they condemned this “fear investigation?”

    Shame on the townspeople who believe this is a side show and want to return to “business as usual” with the same rascals who are playing them (and their money) for fools.

  21. idratherbeat63,

    Shelley Lombard did not lie to the public in regards to her being served a subpoena. Barista Kids never reported that Lombard was served, because she never said she was. Montclair Patch wrongly reported that Lombard was served and has issued a correction: https://bit.ly/1bZk51B

  22. Georgette, thank you for following up on this specific point.

    The retraction is very recent and most likely follows on my comment from yesterday here saying it not believable that she was issued a subpoena. The retraction was not there earlier today.

    Interestingly, the retraction does not state it was an error in reporting. So probably MBoE Shelly Lombard received some legal advice stating that she should retract what was not true. It would be interesting to know from Patch where the misinformation came from.

    Teresa Akersten is a good editor. It would be wrong to assume she made the error without further information.

  23. idratherbeat63,

    It was “corrected”, not retracted and I suggest that you reach out to the editor of the Patch for clarification.

    To make statements as fact, when you do not have the facts is wrong.

  24. Georgette,

    Thank you again. However, I do think you too need to be fair in this discussion. The fact was that when I wrote the above, no correction had been made. And the article had sat online for 7 days with that statement from Shelly Lombard.

    Please also note that I first informed myself as to whether or not a subpoena was indeed issued for Shelly Lombard, and that did take a bit of time to know precisely from two reliable sources that no subpoena had been issued for her.

    I did reach out to Teresa Akersten just now to know how the error occurred. It seems to have been a misunderstanding in the conversation between Ms. Akersten and Ms. Lombard. But it remains curious why Ms. Lombard allowed this misunderstanding to persist for 7 days. Two hours ago Ms. Akersten was informed of the misunderstanding and posted the correction. I think she did a good job.

    I suggest you remove the above comment because the information in it regarding what Ms. Lombard said has since been shown to have been in need of correction. Thank you.

  25. Idratherbeat63,

    Instead of questioning the inconsistencies of reports about Lombard, you chose to personal attack her by stating as a fact that she lied.

    That’s your problem. Rather than just asking why, you post blatant accusations.

    I have had to delete several of your comments because they have contained personal attacks, ethnic slurs and worse.

    You fail to understand the difference between standing by what you believe in and attacking people on a personal level.

  26. idratherbeat63: “But it remains curious why Ms. Lombard allowed this misunderstanding to persist for 7 days.”
    Maybe she didn’t read the article. Please stop casting aspersions on the characters of people who have actively worked on behalf of your children and mine for years. People like Shelly do not deserve the treatment you give them.

  27. Do we have any idea of the chronology of events? I understand this is the subject of the big investigation but wondering if anyone knows anyone who actually went on Gobookie and saw the tests and how they were even alerted that these tests were posted there? It’s not like Gobookie is a common site people use – most if not all of us I think had never heard of it – so in my mind unless a student googled “Montclair Assessment for grade X” the week of the exam and got lucky, then someone told someone else that these things were posted and directed them to the Gobookie site.

    Also do we know if Gobookie has the tests on the public or credit card-only part of their site? On the public part are PDFs scraped from pretty much any website that posts public stuff – so my company has press releases and biographical info on our website that I can find on Gobookie in the form of PDF files if I enter my company’s name into their search bar. I imagine the tests were posted publically since I can’t imagine anyone putting their credit card info into a site like this to find tests which may or may not be there. So if it was posted publically then it was likely posted publically to the Montclair BOE/School site or was printed out and proactively posted on Gobookie. In either event, i think a person either screwed up (plausable IRB63 argument that the BOE posted some publically they were scraped and they have egg on their face) or someone proactively put them in the public sphere or more likely proactively put them on Gobookie. I say that because – who the hell ever heard of Gobookie? I may be wrong, but how would any innocent person find these tests without knowing to look on Gobookie? If you googles Montclair assessments you would find 25 links to us arguing about it here and articles on Patch and Montclair Times. It makes me think that someone had to be directed by the culprit (at least initially) to go to that site specifically to see the tests. Unfortunately the only one who has fessed up to being directed there was David Cummings who is on the BOE. So it is not unreasonable that they would ask him who directed you to this obscure website to see the stolen tests. This may very well be later on in the chain but they were only posted publically for short time so I can understand why the rest of the BOE would want to know who directed him there.

    To me it’s tough to think that this is an erroneos posting by a BOE employee that got picked up by Gobookie which is an info grab site. It could have happened, but who would know to go to Gobookie to find it without being directed? Maybe this is a commonly used website among some in town, but I doubt anyone went there to see these tests without being told to by the person who put them there.

    That’s my conspiracy theory. I may be wrong.

  28. Notice I wrote that without “personal attacks, ethnic slurs and worse.”

    Though a spelling and grammar check would have been helpful.

  29. cspn55 Nice posting and good thinking. Some further information.

    The first announcement of the leaked assessments came from the MEA on Saturday, October 26:

    ‘On the evening of October 25, our Montclair Education Association President, Gayl Shepard was notified that the Montclair Public School District’s “interim assessments” were available to the public online. The links to each grade-level assessment on the website, Gobookee.org have since been removed, but it is not known how long this information had public access.’

    On Sunday, October 27 in the afternoon, Montclair Cares about Schools followed up supporting the MEA and stating: “Montclair Cares About Schools today called on the Board of Education and Superintendent Penny MacCormack to cancel the quarterly assessments which are scheduled to begin this week and were found last week to have been posted on the Internet.”

    Then, on Sunday evening, October 27, Superintendent Penny MacCormack made her first public statement on the affair: “Late Friday I learned that the security of our information system had been breached and 14 of the over 60 initial assessments were posted on a public website. Only these 14 assessments were available and only for a short time. Once I became aware of this breach, action was taken to preclude anyone without authorization from accessing any additional assessments.”

    David Cummings has stated that he learned about the breach from a parent. It is unclear to me how the MEA and Superintendent MacCormack learned of the breach.

    All of the above information I have thanks to the good reporting on Baristakids. You can find the information under the dates above.

    GoBookee.org is located in Moscow. The MBoE only has subpoena powers within NJ.

    There are actually two interesting questions regarding the posting of the assessments on GoBookie.org

    1. How did the assessments get placed on GoBookie.org As you say, it is an obscure site and it just seems so strange that someone who wanted to make something public would put them there. Scraping seems to be the most plausible answer, but the public has not been informed.

    2. How did someone get them off that site and apparently so quickly? (And why only remove those documents and not all School District documents?) The only way I can find to contact that site is through making an online request. I haven’t tried, but I find it amazing that one could get documents off that site so quickly. Any takers to experiment on this one?

    Your other point is interesting as well. How were the documents discovered there? No idea. But perhaps it was a parent or a student looking for some other School District document that stumbled across them.

    Let’s experiment: I type “montclair board of education meeting agenda” into my Google search. Top of page 3 appears a link to http://www.mybookezz.org I’m brave. I open it. It has nearly the same appearance (and documents) as GoBookie.org My guess is that it is something like a mirror site. Listed below for free are several MBoE pdfs (I’m not brave enough to open them). Once a high school kids stumbles on that, s/he can have a field day looking around.

    (And, by the way, kids [and some parents] know all the cool sites out there to get things for free. I’m not saying a child or parent was the first to find these. I don’t know. And I think we will have trouble knowing now because of all the fear in the community for being suspected of knowing anything related to the leak. There could have been a much calmer and more cooperative way to find what is needed to be known.)

    We can also ask if documents or other information continue to be uploaded to that site or other sites of the sort that we are unaware of. My feeling is that until we find the security breach, it is difficult to be comfortable that the server(s) is (are) secure. But again, I don’t know.

    You know, my guess from the start has been that this was just bad security and pure innocence outside of the security issues (and some happy rascals in Moscow who do not care a hoot about CCSI or PARCC but only credit card numbers).

    I think it is that simple. I think there are no scoundrels to be found (outside of a very cold Moscow). The simple thing to have been done was to find where the security breach in the server was, fix the firewall issues and get on with education.

    And yes, someone should be held accountable for a half million dollar security error, but it should not be a scapegoat. It should be the one responsible.

  30. listen i’m a bit more ambivalent about the access thing than most people who generally oppose the BOE seem to be… my issue is with ms. lombard’s newest baffling comments: “I cannot understand how two heads of teacher’s unions and an MFEE employee, don’t appreciate the importance of protecting data of our children and keeping student confidentiality.” — i could take this and run with it, but i have a lot on my plate tonight… i’ll let you guys run with it… what do you think specifically about these comments?

  31. Ms Lombard’s comments undermine the 1A issues and Council’s overwhelming need to heal neighbors with fences too high.
    To say this is about he kids is just wrong. To implicate the unions will just bore the media into ignoring Montclair.
    This story still has legs. While I like Ms Lombard, she is undermining the media exploitation.

    PS: the timeline above is incorrect. I’m sure it was unintentional.

  32. This was a bad decision by the Town Council. The archived e-mails are the BOE’s and they have every right to access that info. Same applies to individuals or other organizations….they have a right to access to their own backup records.

    For the Councilors who voted to block access….how do you think this promotes “healing” ?

    The Council majority seems satisfied to move on…never to find out how Montclair Schools confidential materials ended up on a public internet site. Was a BOE server hacked? Leaks from an employee? Serreptitious upload by gobookee.org?

    The Council majority wantes to move on and keep fingers crossed, hoping it doesn’t happen again…..which is not wise leadership at all.

  33. The Town Council is demonstrating strong leadership by sending a message that enough is enough. I am absolutely astonished at the amount of chaos wrought on this town since Penny MacCormack assumed her position. In all my years living in Montclair I have never seen anything like this. The tactics they are using to silence their opponents is very disturbing. I had believed Montclair was a town one could voice an opinion, even an unpopular one, without judgment and being made to look like you are disloyal or afraid of change as this regime Iikes to espouse.

    What really strikes me is that in 5 seconds I can google the Broad Academy, the institution whereMacCormack received her “training,” and come up with at least a dozen articles denouncing it and listing their abhorrent tactics to tear apart a school and yet they have defenders in their goals. Everything is happening in this town that has happened in other Towns that Briad Superintendants were placed into, including our friends in highland Park and this is acceptable? When did it become ok for children as Pawns?

    I say enough is enough. Save our schools, save our children. Put their needs first for a change.

  34. I apologize for the few typos and grammatical errors. Was holding my baby while typing. One of my motivators in speaking up for what I believe in.

  35. Sorry. Can’t help you. I have been chastised by spotontarget for my nitpicking and anger management issues, so I have resolved to focus on my vision and perspective.

  36. @Frank Rubacky Oh no, not you too. You’re not going to become a bore? Frank, say it ain’t so.

    Look, you can become angry with me anytime you want. Call me whatever name in the book you want, even invent a few. Throw the good china. But, please, I do need you just as you are.


  37. cspn55 I will try to look back later but I believe the first story on this on Baristanet mentioned that a parent was searching the web for information about the assessments and came across the docs on gobookee.

  38. It is terrible: I think Frank Rubacky is right again. (And I understand better why he did not make the correction himself.)

    I had forgotten. Posted under the MEA announcement of the assessment leak at 7:28 pm on Saturday, October 26, is the following:

    ‘This morning, Barista Kids was informed by another tipster that the first quarter assessments had been posted online. However, we were given no evidence and the link that was forwarded to us as proof was not an assessment, but rather a unit guideline for teachers. We have reached out to Dr. MacCormack and are awaiting a response.

    ‘When asked who alerted them to the online posting of the assessments, the MEA told us that “A parent had found the information on line and told a teacher. The teacher then informed Gayl Shepard.”’

    So correct chronology, that is out in the public is as follows:

    1. A parent found them online
    2. A teacher was informed
    3. [Sometime after the parent found them and the teacher was informed, Superintendent MacCormack “became aware” (she never shared how, so we don’t know if it is through this parent and/or this teacher or how at all)
    4. A tipster (the same parent? teacher? Superintendent MacCormack? anonymous? known to Baristakids?) reports to Baristakids. Baristakids cannot confirm and does not report (but apparently received an e-mail with a link that isn’t quite right).
    5. MEA finds out (evening of Oct 25) and issues a statement (from whom they find out we don’t know)
    6. MCAS finds out (from whom? and how?) and issues a statement
    7. Superintendent MacCormack Issues her first statement (Sunday evening, Oct 27, 2 days after the breach, one day prior to when the first assessments should be used)
    8. Mayor Jackson’s famous letter lecturing the Montclair community, Monday, Oct 28 around noon (who informed Mayor Jackson? did he see the leaked assessments?)
    9. Monday, Oct 29 evening: Anonymous video posted on Baristakids
    10. Monday, Oct 29, Evening, second message from Superintendent MacCormack on the leaked assessments
    11. Tuesday, Oct 29, New York Times publishes an article on the leaded assessments
    –note that Assessmentgate is still not born–
    xx. December 5, the MBoE tells a Superior Court Judge that Assessmentgate is the Linch-pin in their investigation.

    It is interesting to note, that in 1-11, none of these people or organizations have been issued with a subpoena (to the best of our knowledge).

    You can scroll through this to see the order in which Baristakids ran the articles: https://baristanetnew.wpengine.com/education/page/6/

    @Frank Rubacky, say it’s right this time. Please.

  39. @assessmentgate Thanks so much for the link to the Facebook page.

    Folks, you do need to read this subpoena served on MBoE Member David Cummings: https://www.aclu-nj.org/files/4813/8618/9800/MBOE146_Subpoena_of_D__Cummings_RGL.pdf

    I mean like, wow! Talk about trying to ruin a guy’s life. And this from his fellow MBoE members all apparently because he asked Superintendent MacCormack questions like ‘Did you obey the law?’

    And to think this only 18 days after he authorizes the investigation to go after . . . . me! him!

    And who can possibly now say this is not a fear investigation.

    Strange thing is with all this bogus subpoena’s flying around, the MBoE still has apparently not even looked at its own servers, can’t access its own e-mail archives. Strange world that MBoE lives in.

    And what will Mr. Cumming’s say during his day in court: Look judge, I authorized this illegal investigation to serve illegal subpoena’s and then, out of the blue, my Board President issues an illegal subpoena on me. Oh my, do I really have to comply? I think the judge will need a coffee break.

    By the way, what happened on October 8? Were the assessments flying around the Internet between October 8 and 25? What happened on October 12? Why October 1? So so much we do not know.

    @assessmentgate (again) The MBoE President Robin Kulwin quotes during the last days have been precious. I noticed the ones here, the ones in the Montclair Times, and the ones (you don’t have them yet there) last night on Patch (good article).

    The long and the short of it seems to be that Robin Kulwin is now trying to scapegoat her lawyer, saying well Mark Tabakin convinced us and we believed him and I really don’t know what is going on. As if to say, I’m not responsible for my name being on all the subpoena’s and this completely botched investigation.

    By the way, where are the results from the promised investigation into the gun incident? Does anyone out there have them?

  40. Assessmentgate, Ms. Kulwin’s statements are indeed inconsistent and it is highly doubtful that the lawyer is making decisions without her consent. I am particularly bewildered by the statements by Kulwin and Ms. Lombard bemoaning the waste of money caused by the leak of the assessments when they are spending our money profligately by persecuting people who are exercising their free speech rights on the Internet.

  41. Idratherbeat63, I just read the Cummings subpoena and I’m astounded at what extent they are going to to harass the one dissenting Board member.

  42. @kyle 41181 I am aware of what Georgette wrote yesterday, and I am aware of what you have been writing on Baristanet/kids recently, and I am also aware of what I have written. I think we are all responsible for what we write.

    If you would like to insist on me responding to the question, “Am I a racist?” and if Georgette agrees that this may appear here as a blog (not a comment), then I will be happy to provide you with a full response.

    I suspect Georgette will not agree. In that case Georgette may explain to you why you have the impression from what she writes about me that I am a racist. You are also welcome to look through all of my comments on Baristnet/kids and Patch and draw your own conclusions from there.

    I will say this kyle41181, I do not believe that I have ever asked this question of another human being in my entire life. You have taken the audacious step to do so, and whether or not I am granted here a space to respond, you will always bear the responsibility of having asked this question.

  43. @latebloomer He’s going to need a moving van comply.

    Assessmentgate, myself and the others know what awaits us.

  44. idratherbeat63,

    i asked the question because you were accused of using “ethnic slurs or worse”. This has not come across in any of your other statements, as i have read most. maybe that’s the confusion.

    Most people who respect diverse lifestyles do not use ethnic slurs, do you agree?

  45. @kyle41181 Thank you for rephrasing your question. I did find your comment offensive, but I did not (and would never) ask to have it removed. The most offensive comment I have ever received here is the one you reacted to, that remains. Still it rests on itself.

    Your second question, which I find interesting and valuable, asks: “Most people who respect diverse lifestyles do not use ethnic slurs, do you agree?” Perhaps the term “slur” makes it difficult to respond to because it implies that an ethnic offense is intended. I have never been in a community or a society where ethnicity and race are not discussed: seriously, in passing, and even jokingly. Of course, I have not been everywhere. I have talked about and joked about ethnicity and race in many situations.

    I know of no one who has never discussed or joked about ethnicity or race. Perhaps there are some, but I do not know them. Perhaps you or others here. I know and have known outstanding individuals of a wide variety of “ethnic” and “racial” backgrounds, people who I deeply and rightly admire who have made remarks about ethnicity or race that I considered “racist.” It takes one back, every time. Frankly, I think living in Montclair makes one hypersensitive to remarks about ethnicity or race, but I am pleased to have that.

    I know of one occasion that I said something to someone trying to help her and she interpreted my remark as racist. It was quite some time ago. It is a terrible feeling. I think she new in the next instance it was not racist and I knew for myself it was not, but something breaks in that moment almost beyond repair.

    Also I should say that I have myself never been in a community that did not have diverse lifestyles. Diversity between people is not based on the shade of your skin or the color of your eyes or whether you wear high heels or not. Diversity has to do with how we look at and value ourselves, our communities and our world. Of course, we all want to feel we are different, but in the end it is the lesson of Saint Anthony that we need to learn.

    In short, I agree. Ethnic and racial slurs belittle us. Talk about ethnicity and race is common place and part of the artifacts of our language and culture. Most (all?) people slip and fall at times. We bear the scars. But we should hurry to judge people on anomalies.

    I suppose I cannot provide you a sufficient response to your excellent question. But I do appreciate you having the courage and courtesy to return and rephrase it. I know we do not see eye to eye on all things, and I am aware that I was too harsh in my response to your first question. For that I apologize.

    [I understand that I did not answer your first question. That response is quite different.]

  46. For the comment above, the sentence should read: “But we should not hurry to judge people on anomolies.” I had left out the “not.” Not good.

  47. Who will pay the printing costs and the moving van costs for MBoE Member David Cummings to comply with the MBoE subpoena authorized by Robin Kulwin? Does Mr. Cummings have to pay those costs himself or will the MBoE/Montclair taxpayer be picking up those costs?

    How many hours will Mr. Tabakin be paid just to do the first reading of Mr. Cummings’ private conversations? Are coffee breaks included in the billing times?

  48. The BOE is wasting time trying to access the server and going after anonymous bloggers. Here’s my theory on what probably happened: someone from central office or perhaps a teacher involved with creating the assessments got tired of having to type in the password every time they wanted to access the tests. So they saved the pdf files on their office computer desktop or perhaps their laptop or home computer. Unprotected from malware, these files were then uploaded by gobookee without anyone the wiser. That is exactly how this website operates. The big question then is how did anyone happen to discover these tests on gobookee? Well, the SEO (search engine optimization) of gobookee is rather good. If you’re looking for sample assessments, odds are pretty good you’d stumble across these assessments sooner or later. Don’t believe me? Google Penny MacCormack and assessments. It is amazing how much of our BOE data is offered up on these fraudulent websites.

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