UPDATED: Montclair Board's Assessment Leak Investigation Cost $60,000 Plus David Cummings Attorney Fees

boadUpdate 1/29: Barista Kids has obtained a copy of the bill from Stuart Ball, LLC, Mr. Cummings attorney, to the Montclair Board of Education. Click link below to view.

Update: Barista Kids reached out to board President Robin Kulwin, as well as attorney Mark Tabakin, for comment on whether the Board is responsible for Mr. Cummings’s legal fees and if they intend to pay the $69,000 bill Cummings’s attorney billed them.

Kulwin stated, “Stuart Ball’s invoice was provided to the Board at last night’s meeting.  The Board first must clarify whether Mr. Cummings is eligible for reimbursement.  The Board then must address the reasonableness of the bill itself before making a decision one way of the other. The date of the public meeting when the matter will be addressed has yet to be determined.”

The Montclair Board of Education’s first meeting of the 2014 on January 27 stretched into way past midnight, with most time spent on the implementation of new curriculum standards, but the biggest news to come out was the cost of the investigation.

Mark Tabakin, Board attorney, shared that $60,000 in legal fees were billed from its legal counsel, Weiner, Lesniak LLP for the investigation of the 14 leaked assessments during the months of November and December. Weiner Lesniak charged the board $150 per hour.

In addition to those costs, Tabakin reported a bill of $69,000 from Board member David Cumming’s attorney Stuart Ball who is providing legal counsel for him after Cummings was served a subpoena in November to give testimony. Cummings would not  cooperate with the board’s investigation by refusing to share the name(s) of the person(s) who contacted him with information about the assessments being available online.

Tabakin broke down some of the figures of the $60,000 bill. “The board’s efforts in dealing with Mr. Cummings on the subpoena totaled  approximately $11,000, the ACLU litigation is approximately $10,800, and fees associated with the investigation dealing with network administration was roughly $4300.  So about 44 percent of the total amount of legal fees associated with the investigation of the assessment is associated with those three matters,” he said.

Board president Robin Kulwin told Barista Kids that they anticipated the investigation  to be about a three-week process, but when someone didn’t cooperate, it ran the expenses up.

The state’s Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance (OFAC) took over the investigation on Tuesday, January 7, 2014.

Bullock School Teacher’s Report

Teachers from the Charles Bullock School addressed the board regarding how the school year has gone since the new standards were first implemented, as the other schools were asked to at previous meetings.

Curriculum support director Susan Synnott said that a good deal was working at the school.  “From our fabulous facility, to just the atmosphere that you feel when you come in the building, it’s filled with laughter and fun,” she said. “It’s just a great place to be.”  She cited the installation of a dean of students who has been an asset to the teachers, as well as the hard work of the teaching staff  and the student  activities available.

Other Bullock teachers, addressing what was not working, noted that language arts had suffered and that professional development needed to further adjust to the quarterly assessments, which were a burden on the teachers’ efforts at teaching students.

The Bullock teachers called for the re-instatement of classroom aides and restoring pre-K to the school system.

“We need time to learn how to meet the demands of the new standards,” one teacher said.

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  1. Though it is important that the legal fees came to light, it is a shame that this had to so overshadow the Bullock teacher’s presentation as they said a great deal more than what was able to be covered here. They made it very clear they wanted the quarterly assessments to stop as they were causing a severe impediment to their teaching and they were not getting information of value. They spoke to how they did not have time to reteach if students weren’t getting a lesson because they had to quickly move on to the next lesson. They made it clear that though a child might be able to retain information for a test that they are not really learning and absorbing that information and it will not carry forward to the next year. They also spoke to not being heard by the Superintendent’s office with their issues. In fact, so much was said last night it could fill two articles. The teachers want the classroom aides back to help compensate for the large class sizes and Gail Clarke acknowledged the math was not working and she is now, finally meeting with the teachers to work on it. She admitted this should have been done in September. The Board asked a lot of questions of Clarke and the Bullock Teachers. The teachers were clearly frustrated by what seemed the Board’s not getting what they were trying to say.

    I apologize for leaving out a lot of information. It was a long night. I. Left at 11:30 pm and the meeting was still continuing.

  2. Thanks for the rundown, Steve. And thank you for the additional information, nycmontclair. I had to leave at 9pm, so missed all but Gail Clarke’s presentation and a small portion of the superintendent’s report.

    Did I hear correctly that the implementation of the assessments was being slowed down AND that elementary schools would be moving to three-times a year to better fit in with their schedule?

  3. Kristin, there was so much back and forth last night, but it does seem like they are going to move next year to three assessments. I do want to see if someone can confirm that. However, it also seemed pretty clear they were not going to slow down the assessments despite actual pleading last night to put a moratorium on them.

  4. Kulwin thought the investigation would only take three weeks? Actually, it probably only took three minutes. If you look back to when the BOE first authorized the investigation, it is now crystal clear that the real motivation was to intimidate ANYONE who dares to get in the way of the “Board’s best interest.” And that includes Board members! Don’t believe me? Read the FINE PRINT:

    “The Montclair Board of Education wishes to act as a Committee of the Whole for the purpose of conducting hearings regarding the suspected unauthorized release of proprietary/confidential District tests/assessments, as well as investigating other incidents of conduct contrary to the Board’s best interest, as may be disclosed by further investigation…”

  5. Here is the most significant issue of this story:

    Mr. Cummings is in violation of NJ State ethics rules when he represents any other entity than the Board of Education. There should have been NO reason for him to act such that any legal expenses would be incurred by the BoE or paid for by our tax dollars.

    I will quote the rules he is bound to below. You may find it and all other regulations at https://www.state.nj.us/education/ethics/act.htm. He is in violation of section 18A:12-24. Conflicts of interest section g.

    No school official or business organization in which he has an interest shall represent any person or party other than the school board or school district in connection with any cause, proceeding, application or other matter pending before the school district in which he serves or in any proceeding involving the school district in which he serves or, for officers or employees of the New Jersey School Boards Association, any school district. This provision shall not be deemed to prohibit representation within the context of official labor union or similar representational responsibilities;

    In my opinion he should refund the expenses and should step down from the Board.


  6. Thank you nycmontclair for a thoughtful recap. I agree the Bullock teachers’ presentation was the highlight of the meeting.

    The board members took copious notes and looked to be taking their comments very seriously. Known for their high level of professionalism and dedication, the Bullock teachers IMO were reasonable and measured in their analysis of what is working and what is not. I do hope the board members give strong weight to their words.

  7. My greatest concern in all of this is that although we have a report from the Town Manager on the reasons for the so-called “data breach,” and although IT personnel from both the BOE and Town had input into that report,

    We have not had an INDEPENDENT review of the incident by OUTSIDE experts

    Nor have we had recommendations and a plan, from independent, outside, experts to not only prevent similar occurrences, but recommendations and a plan to INSURE the security of the data going forward.

    This is not to say that ANY wrong doing occurred. It is to say that I believe another “pair of eyes” is required.

  8. Jon, I’ve read that section on ethics a few times and I’m not sure it applies to this situation. Cummings was defending himself, and not representing any entity other than himself. This section seems written to assure outside interests don’t influence board members, not to prevent a board member from exercising a defense in a legal matter related to his duties as a board member.

    Can the right to defend yourself be trumped by holding a board position? I don’t see that you can legally do that, and why would people join the board with the expectation that they would lose the right to defend themselves?

    To quote Inigo Montoya, I don’t think that means what you think it means.

    Also, if the BOE didn’t think they were on the hook for the legal fees would they have paid them?

  9. This article seems to address the issue…

    “The Board of Education will indemnify Board members in accordance with law whenever a civil, administrative, or criminal or quasi-criminal action or other legal proceeding is brought against a Board member for any act or omission arising out of and in the course of the performance of his/her duties as Board member. In the case of a criminal or quasi-criminal or action which results in a final disposition in favor of the Board member, the Board will defray all costs of defending the action, including reasonable counsel fees and expenses, together with costs of appeal, and will save harmless and protect the Board member from any financial loss resulting from the action. Indemnification for exemplary or punitive damages is not required and will be governed by the standards and procedures set forth in N.J.S.A. 59:10-4.

    The Board may arrange for and maintain appropriate insurances to cover all such damages, losses and expenses.”

  10. State Street Pete,

    The Board has not paid the bill from Cummings’s attorney yet, they just let the public know that they were billed and the cost. I’m waiting for confirmation from the Board and attorney, but I believe they will meet to discuss the issue and how they will proceed.

  11. Sorry, one last thing…section J of the very same School Ethics Act that was cited says…

    “Nothing shall prohibit any school official, or members of his immediate family, from representing himself, or themselves, in negotiations or proceedings concerning his, or their, own interests”

  12. Cummings was not representing himself. He refused to provide the identities of those who had contacted him on this matter. This resulted in the BoE having to subpoena him. By doing so he put the interest of those other parties (not himself) ABOVE his responsibility to the BoE. This is in violation of section g. above, and has resulted in Montclair tax payers potentially being responsible for $80K they should not be billed for. It is a conflict of interest and he should admit it and step down imho. JB

  13. Some excerpts from the local paper…

    In addition to the costs incurred by its legal counsel, Kulwin said the board will also have to pick up the more than $69,000 cost of providing legal counsel for one of its members, David Cummings, who was issued a subpoena in the probe.

    The additional $69,000 charge for Cummings’ legal representation covers the fees of attorney Stuart Ball who was retained by Cummings after he received a subpoena from Tabakin. Ball’s fees will also be paid by the Board of Education.

    Tuma cited several entries on the bill that referenced research into the open public meetings act and the requirements of the public to participate in open public meetings. “This looks like your [conducting] research in curtailing public participation,” she said.

    Regardless, we’ve spent $140k for what?

  14. These posts are very interesting. Not informative, just interesting. People interpret things the way that best fits their understanding of the situation.

    Under both the state and U S constitution everyone is entitled to legal counsel. Mr. Cummings as a BOE member is also entitled to the same legal representation. Anyone who is ever subpoenaed should immediately seek legal counsel, and BOE members are no exception. So in this instance David Cummings did take prudent action, and was within his right to do so.

    What is more disturbing is that the BOE’s attorney Mark Tabakin, as well as the BOE, may have violated ethics laws, by hiring its own board attorney, to conduct the board’s investigation.

    The BOE in so doing, created a blatant conflict of interest, since the BOE’s attorney is already charged with protecting BOE members, which would also include David Cummings.

    In the world of subpoena land, non-cooperation, as David Cummings did, is always an act of self-interest.

    Perhaps, Cummings should not have been subpoenaed in the first place, and certainly not by the BOE’s attorney. One cannot serve two masters.

  15. Jon, why should Cummings provide the identities of those who had contacted him if there was no evidence that they were involved? It was fishing.

  16. I wanted to touch on something belletoness referenced from the newspaper article:

    “Tuma cited several entries on the bill that referenced research into the open public meetings act and the requirements of the public to participate in open public meetings. “This looks like your [conducting] research in curtailing public participation,” she said.”

    Tuma did read a fairly shocking list of citations that seemed to indicate that in September, around the time the Board changed their procedures for public participation, they paid Tabakin, to research various aspects of “public participation”. I seem to recall the tab came to about $900 in attorney fees, including Tabakin’s travel to and from the BOE.

    If true, and from what I heard the evidence is pretty damning, this certainly lends credence to the entire argument that the Board is trying to silence their opponents.

  17. Sorry, I meant the tab for the traveling fees was around $900. The total bill for September was much higher. Something like $3400 for the research on curtailing public participation.

  18. The rules are very clear here and they were violated. I believe Cummings’ own justification for not revealing the names of those named was to protect them – not himself, so the documentation conflicts with your claim Mr. Herron. To your question Pete, he (Cummings) is bound by state regulation to do so. If (as you say) there was no evidence of such involvement by those who contacted him, then why even resist informing his fellow Board members? He would have been covered by his own D&O insurance that the BoE provides in such cases. That’s why they have D&O insurance. JB

  19. Robin Kulwin is shocked — shocked! — that anonymous blog posters and one the board’s own members would refuse to cooperate with an investigation after the Mayor, Mrs. Lombard and others essentially declared the posting of the assessments to be a criminal act. who in their right mind would if they knew they were under suspicion of having some connection to the so-called criminal act for merely expressing dissent with the board’s policies? if anyone should be resigning here, it is not Mr. Cummings….whose willingness to push back against his colleagues should in no way way have put him in a defensive and potentially costly position. if you can’t at least admit that much now, you are engaging in partisan hackery. had one shred of evidence come to light of wrongdoing by a teacher, parent, student or rogue board member, i would admit the board’s position was justified. no outside person could have just posted the tests on the site on which the assessments appeared — the clue that this was a basic security error all along. the question of why the board took to the offensive is the one Kulwin, Lombard, etc should have to answer….hopefully on their way out the door.

  20. Mr. Cummings was singled out because he was a dissenter, and as a citizen he has every right to defend himself. Why weren’t the other BOE members subpoenaed as well? It is very clear that all the people targeted were dissenters, and this was a witchhunt designed to have a chilling effect. A colossal waste of money, and a travesty, going against everything this progressive town once stood for.

  21. “If (as you say) there was no evidence of such involvement by those who contacted him, then why even resist informing his fellow Board members?”

    Because it’s none of their business and he feared, and rightly so, that it was an attempt, not to get to the truth, but to ferret out critics. But that doesn’t matter. The BOE knew only that he had communications related to the assessment breech, but nothing to show the conversations were relevant to the origins of the breach. Do you believe the BOE has the right to see the content of any board member’s communications whenever they darn well please?

    And at this point in our nation’s history, with the question of privacy in our personal communications front and center, I’m surprised to hear the claim that if one has nothing to hide then one should have no problem giving up the right to keep private conversations private.

  22. Melinda, The other BoE members were not subpoenaed because they were not provided information about the leak of assessment tests that they said they had received but then did not share with the other Board members. There was no reason to subpoena them. It’s simple, and about the choice made not to live up to a fiduciary responsibility. That’s all.

  23. Well, that is not exactly correct. I am not sure why other BOE members were not subpoenaed, but I have my suspicions. The entire BOE was notified within 24 hours hours after the assessments appeared on the Go Bookie web site. I know this for a fact, because I notified the BOE of the possibility of the assessments being on line.

    The BOE members knew it; they had the ability to see for themselves. As of today, the BOE members never, ever responded to my email. So claims that they did not know about them, and that is the reason other BOE members were not subpoenaed, is just false.

    It appears to have been a witch-hunt; it appears the other BOE members had a desire to silence any and all critics. Such behavior by the BOE is deplorable.

  24. @ State Street Pete:

    You asked:

    “Do you believe the BOE has the right to see the content of any board member’s communications whenever they darn well please?”

    Not whenever they darn well please, but definitely when the record the BoE is seeking is a “government record.”

    OPRA specifically defines a government record as:“… any paper, written or printed book, document, drawing, map, plan, photograph, microfilm, data processed or image processed document, information stored or maintained electronically or by sound-recording or in a similar device, or any copy thereof, that has been made, maintained or kept on file … or that has been received in the course of his or its official business …”

  25. @ dherron

    You stated: “I am not sure why other BOE members were not subpoenaed, but I have my suspicions.”

    I suspect the other BoE members provided information and testimony voluntarily, which would have negated the need for a subpoena. You don’t need to subpoena someone who cooperates.

  26. their so-called investigation was a sham from the beginning. Cary Africk states that no independent investigation has taken place. that is correct. the board spent $130,000 on an investigation led by its own attorney — did you complain at the outset of that, Cary? (just asking, not accusing). had they not been so determined to punish dissenters or cover up the sloppiness of their hand-picked and agenda-driven superintendent, they would have worked with their IT people to explore the mere possibility of inside error without spending a dime.
    if that had produced nothing, they could have requested the state come in — where they are now. again: no matter where you stand on the education policies of the super/board, if you can’t see what a mess they’ve made of this, how divisive and costly it has been, you are the equivalent of the Tea Party idiot who screamed, “keep your government hands off my Medicare.”

  27. “they would have worked with their IT people to explore the mere possibility of inside error without spending a dime.
    if that had produced nothing, they could have requested the state come in — where they are now. ”

    Perfectly stated.

  28. This was most decidedly a witch hunt. How else would you describe going after citizens posting anonymously on message boards, with no indication that they have the faintest idea about the assessments being leaked, but who all oppose the administration?

    Belletones, I will assume that Jon slipped, but I am Melinda.

  29. Hi Melinda, I’m with you all the way on this. The investigation should have been done internally first and there was no need to spread such a wide net unless the intent was to shut up dissenters.

  30. While Cummings could be considered a grey area, directing subpoenas at the online posters, who never posted anything that could lead one to believe they were guilty of the “crime”, was wrong and came of as vindictive (and expensive).

  31. @latebloomer, I guess you reAlly can’t be anonymous on here if people slip your name out, can you?

    The real story here is that last night teachers AGAIN stood together. Late into the hours they stayed to get the message across to the BOE and to the public. Is ANYONE LISTENING? This isn’t going to stop or just go away. I predict its going to continue unless people actually open their eyes and ears to what is going wrong here in our schools. There are big, big problems here. The teachers are talking, please listen! They aren’t coming to these meeting for themselves. They leave their families, come out after a long day at work because our students are in great danger if the BOE doesn’t realize what the problem really is. The problem is not who leaked the tests, it’s HOW were they even able to be leaked? Who is going to pay for that? Whose fault is it that the information was not secure? Those assessments were flawed anyway. What were they going to show except that this plan has been rushed and implemented without the adequate training ? I am one unhappy mother that my kid is a Guinea pig this year and it is unacceptable!!

  32. This investigation was a sham. It was not designed to find anything. With compromised date, the first place you start, should have been to communicate with your IT dept. This was never done. So next, they looked to see who was talking about the assessments, and then the BOE decided, that’s the person we should be focusing on.

    And we know very little about whether other BOE members were ever questioned. So I still perceive this as a witch-hunt.

    Problem with witch-hunts, they seldom disclose anything of real importance.

    No one in America has to voluntarily cooperate with any investigation. Failure to cooperate is not indicative of one who has something to hide. I wonder where do some of these posters think they live.

    We still live in America folks, where everyone still has rights.

  33. @latebloomer, I guess you reAlly can’t be anonymous on here if people slip your name out, can you?

    Better than a subpoena. Now we expect you to give us 5 names of people that were critical of the current BOE. Name names!!

  34. And speaking of rights, why has the BOE assembled an Achievement Gap Advisory Panel, yet the BOE will not disclose a roster of members on the Panel.

    We’re in America, remember.

    Another parent at Mondays BOE meeting has been asking for a copy of the district’s Enrollment Report, which the BOE has refused to release to him. Why not, it’s not a confidential report, in fact the BOE in years past, would have copies for anyone who asked.

    Our BOE must cease functioning like a secret society.

  35. I’m not sure what the IT “staff” is for either the BOE or the Town.

    With a network administrator in Boulder, Colorado, and an empty position for head of IT at the BOE (I believe they were advertising for a new one), I did not think that an internal review would be adequate.

    Ditto the Township, where the long time head of IT had retired, and a new person was on board.

    Between the BOE and the Town we have a $200MM “enterprise” which NEEDS experienced, and probably expensive, people in charge.

    I don’t know whether the BOE or the Town is capable of designing proper staffing levels and expertise and perhaps an outside consultant should have been brought in, some time ago, to make recommendations.

    Be that as it may, given the staffing, I believe outside expertise should have been brought in.

    This is technical. This is servers, network, software.

  36. I guess I’m not allowed to be anonymous, belletoness. But I am pleading the Fifth and I won’t be naming names! 😉

  37. In the 1/28 Montclair Times article about the BOE’s $130,000+ legal tab, Robin Kulwin was very clear as to who was to blame for the colossal expense: those in the district who disagreed with the Board’s actions.

    From The Montclair Times:

    – “When we started this, we anticipated it was going to be about a three-week process,” Kulwin told The Montclair Times. “However, from the beginning, when someone didn’t cooperate, it ran the expenses up.”

    – “If that person had cooperated, and the next person had cooperated,” Kulwin said the cost might have been significantly different.

    – According to Kulwin, it was “like a domino effect because they didn’t [cooperate].”

    I’m assuming that the first non-cooperator who Kulwin’s referring to is me, and the second is Board member David Cummings.

    In other words, if I and Cummings had cooperated with Kulwin’s unlawful subpoenas in November ’13 without question or resistance, then the Board wouldn’t have had to pay their retained law firm $10,800 to represent them in the case brought by the ACLU-NJ (which protected my First Amendment rights) or $69,000 to attorney Stuart Ball (who protected Cummings’ rights). So the way Kulwin sees it, it’s my and Cummings’ fault that these enormous expenditures piled up.

    It’s ironic that Kulwin is complaining about a lack of cooperation: when she had the opportunity to approve the withdrawal of my subpoena, as per the ACLU’s request, she chose to ignore that option and instead aggressively pursued a court confrontation that she was confident the Board would win. However, when Judge Thomas Vena temporarily quashed the subpoena, cooperation (and the avoidance of a potentially expensive and protracted legal battle) suddenly became very attractive to her – and her subpoena was withdrawn in late December.

    Also quoted in The Montclair Times article was the Board’s retained attorney, Mark Tabakin, who had this to say when it was discovered that he had billed the BOE for legal research about how to skirt OPRA (Open Public Records Act) requests of BOE documents:

    “I was asked to do legal research on OPRA,” Tabakin explained. “The board has received dozens and dozens of OPRA requests.”

    Montclair’s taxpayers and parents wouldn’t have sought so many OPRA requests if Kulwin had been more honest and transparent about the BOE’s inner workings. But because she chose to be secretive – and not cooperative – the community was forced to use OPRAs to obtain the information that she refused to reveal, including:

    • The police report filed by the Board on 10/28/13 about the assessment test leak
    • Records documenting the reasons that notice of the 11/1/13 BOE meeting wasn’t provided to the public more than 48 hours beforehand (as required by law)
    • Records of more than $2,000 in payments from the Broad Foundation – a foundation that seeks to privatize public education – to Superintendent Penny MacCormack

    … and “dozens and dozens” more, including the full cost of the BOE’s legal investigation into the assessment test “leaks”.

    (BTW, unless the BOE presents the district with copies of checks that were issued to their retained law firm, Weiner Lesniak, and/or legal bills and invoices that were received from the firm, I won’t trust that the stated $130,000 price tag is accurate or complete; I truly think that the real tally is much higher. Kulwin’s long history of bending and reworking the truth make it impossible for me to believe her on this.)

    Regarding Tabakin’s “legal research on OPRA”, Kulwin asked Tabakin to look into such things as legally limiting sign-ups for public comments at BOE meetings, limiting the public’s right to know about the Board’s internal machinations and decisions, and assorted other efforts to keep us from learning what really goes on behind those closed door Executive Sessions.

    With all of these new and disturbing revelations, the question we should all be asking isn’t “when will Kulwin change her ways?” but instead “when will Montclair taxpayers and parents become disgusted enough with her dishonest, destructive, and divisive behavior that they demand her removal by her enabler/supporter, Mayor Jackson?”

    – Kulwin’s subpoena to Google for information about my identity

    – Baristakids article about their OPRA for the police report about the assessment test leak

    – Minutes from the 11/1/13 BOE meeting

    – Details about the OPRA seeking information about Broad’s payments to MacCormack

    – Examples of Kulwin’s truth-bending

  38. Did the Super receive the $2000 from Broad personally or was that given to the school district? Any other details about that?

  39. This is all ridiculous but nobody seems to be saying anything about a $69,000 legal bill from an attorney to quash a supeona for David Cummings? How many hours of work did the guy spend on this and at what rate?

    The only Stuart Ball i see online is a real estate attorney from Long Island admitted in NJ and who earned a law degree from Hofstra – nothing against Hofstra Law but if it’s the same guy this is not some $1,000/hr Harvard lawyer. If it is a more highly compensated lawyer then we should see his rate and how many hours of work he put into this. The Tabakin bill is also ridiculous but at $150/hour it is likely a discount if he is any good and at least his firm did work for a longer time period with their “investigation” (and politics at work for giving this work to Ray Lesniak’s firm). The Ball bill however is just a rip off to the taxpayers of Montclair.

  40. cspn55,

    We’ve obtained a copy of the bill from Stuart Ball, LLC, which breaks down the $69,000 and hourly rate. See it in the update above.

  41. this bill is more padded than a mattress. Does anyone believe that it took more than 200 hours of research, brief writing and calls/conferences from 3 $400/hr senior partner lawyers and a $200/hr associate to quash this supeona? This is absurd and I hope the board doesn’t sign off on this. Let Cummings pay his own legal fees – if he went to a lawyer who wasn’t trying to rip off the taxpayers I would be in his corner, but this is ridiculous. And then kick him off the BOE immediately and raise his property taxes for trying to fleece the rest of us in this utterly ridiculous battle of nitwits. This bill represents the yearly salary for some of the teachers. It really is disgusting how the BOE and Cummings would so blatantly piss away money that the taxpayers of this town work hard to earn. Complain about the whole thing, but don’t for a second defend Cummings if he expects to have this garbage legal bill paid.

  42. Georgette, what about Tabakin’s bill? I don’t understand why you would only link to Stuart Ball’s bill. I think we have a right to see the breakdown for Tabakin’s as well. And not just his bill for the investigation, but the breakdown for the September bill in which the Board is accused of trying to curtail public discussion. Certainly, in the interest of fair reporting we deserve to see these as well.

  43. Nycmontclair,

    I have filed an OPRA request for Weiner Lesniak’s bill for the investigation and am awaiting a response.

    I have also filed a request for the September bill.

  44. cspn5,
    oh, give us a break. david cummings gets dragged into the board’s cesspool of criminal accusations and conspiracy theories for no other reason than he challenged the entrenched BOE powers…he’s a volunteer who was trying to at least give a voice on the board to the hundreds in town who have been ignored and that’s supposed to cost him thousands? this fool mayor is lucky cummings hasn’t slapped a defamation suit on this town for the board’s recklessness. if anyone should pay these bills, it’s the kulwin crowd and its enabler, the mayor.

  45. Does anyone on any side of this find it ironic that both attorneys are billing us for researching and educating themselves on OPRA statues? Crap, they could have just posted their question to Pat Gilleran and she would have likely answered for free!

  46. But wait, didn’t the BOE prolong us and make the attorney fees for Cummings worse by not saying whether his subpoena was dropped or not? They actually would not answer! To this day they said his investigation was suspended! Look, they need to own up to their actions and waste of our money.

  47. cspn55,
    It’s just an invoice. Maybe they think Montclair will pay and, if so, pay without negotiation. My bet is on the Montclair. If Montclair contests the bill, the BOE lawyers are charging us half of Stuart Ball Llc’s private rate.

  48. Montclair Public – “Hundreds” ignored? Got news for you, there are 38,000 people in this town and not every faction of the population will get what they want. So maybe “hundreds” out of 38,000 seem to have a problem with the common core and how the BOE operated, but that doesn’t give them license to be spread rumors and lies annonymously and try to destroy a system they haven’t defeated by democratic means. In saying this, I am not saying that anyone in particular necessarily stole these tests and I think that there is a good chance that the dopey BOE accidently had them scraped by that Gobookie website and could be trying to cover their tracks – but I can’t beleive they are that stupid as to think that won’t come out. My inclination is to believe they are just a bunch of volunteers who are neither bright nor dumb and constantly battle uphill in any decsion they make due to vocal factons who demand that their way is the way it has to be. I personally have been turned to the “not-a-fan side” of this BOE given how they have behaved but I think people like Lombard and Kulwin get into this fray since they are probably much like the Assessmentgates and others who feel that they are doing us all a favor by lighting the way for the unwashed masses who need their expert guideance to think for themselves.

    However, this is a deomcratic style of government to a point – we elect people and then they appoint people. The voters of the town chose to have it that way (again IMO led by progressives afraid that the tea party tax-hawks will cut their school funding, unwind the magnet system and segregate the town) by voting to allow a mayor to appoint a BOE. Then the town elected Mayor Enabler who ran as a tride-and-true democrat and had some school union people with him. I was disappointed in both outcomes but I am not willing to screw everyone else in town because I didn’t get my way (and with total disclosure, I kind of like what Mayor Jackson has been doing and might vote for him next time). That next time those opposed to common core and Dr. MacCormack should get their argument out on how the system isn’t working and needs to change and see if they can make their hundreds into thousands.

    Also, assessmentgate and the rest of you would be much more credible if you just pulled an ‘Ira Shor’or ‘Brian Ford’ or even ‘dherron’ and argued and slandered MacCormack and others as regular human beings and not as some annonymous crusader for change – nobody will fire you or lock you up if you question the way the world works. Did the BOE knock on the door of IRB63 and drag her away yet – while I would find that humerous at first and she HAS been quiet, I doubt that happened. If the progressives who you and yours elected (and don’t tell me Jackson and his slate were not your candidates b/c unless you produce proof I won’t believe it (and then I would apologize for being wrong)) would punish you for speaking your mind on something then they would face serious problems since like every other person here is a reporter for some NYC news outlet and everybody likes to think revisit their Vietman war era adolescence.

    Lastky, David Cummings IS a volunteer and while I appreciate that, he didn’t need 3 senior partners at some schlock Nutley law firm with their associate to work 200 hours to research the OPRA law and then plead the 5th. No doubt this bill should be cut severely, however, it’s the idea that they throw it at the wall to see what sticks that makes me angry.

  49. I’m waiting for one of the usual BOE defenders here — just one — to acknowledge that the board’s agenda-driven tunnel vision precipitated all of this. Needlessly. Foolishly. Destructively. One of you, please step up and gain and shred of credibility…

  50. cspn, how can you honestly claim that no one here should fear retaliation for their comments after members of this very forum were dragged into legal proceedings for speaking out?

  51. It is disingenuous for “assessmentgate” to imply that he/she and Cummings are similar here. Can we lose the “gate” already? The former shot his/her mouth off on this forum thinking there would be no repercussions. The latter ignored his fiduciary duty to the Board he agreed to serve on and chose a path that resulted in bills that we taxpayers should not have to pay. They are different things.

  52. cspn55 about anonymous monikers: “you would be much more credible… as regular human beings and not as some annonymous (sp) crusader for change”

    Uh, do you see the irony here, ***cspn55***?

  53. jonbonesteel regarding the BOE’s subpoena that was served to me: “The former shot his/her mouth off on this forum thinking there would be no repercussions.”

    So Kulwin and Tabakin were justified in misusing/abusing their subpoena power to harass me because I spoke out against them???

  54. i am not organizing a movement to oust the superintendent and BOE because they don’t see things exactly as I do. You are. I am not a crusader for anything from behind my keyboard.

  55. cspn, regarding your claim that “maybe “hundreds” out of 38,000 seem to have a problem with the common core and how the BOE operated”, have you actually surveyed anyone, or are you just counting up the actual people you know who are against it and extrapolating from there?

    I recall hearing that there were more than a hundred people at the latest BoE meeting, most of whom seemed unhappy with the board. Are you suggesting those folks comprise most of the people in town who have the complaints?

    I realize those who feel agreived tend to be more motivated to post comments, but if comments here are any indication of community sentiment then there is a substantial portion of the populus who don’t like what this Board and Super are doing.

  56. “substantial portion of the populus”

    Montclairpublic said “hundreds” in her post. On here the vocal critics are Ira Shor, the HS teacher, the former guidance counselor, You, IRB63, Assessmentgate, NYCMontclair, Montclairpubic, LateBloomer and probably 10-15 more annonymous and named posters. So yes, I am “suggesting those folks comprise most of the people in town who have the complaints”. If the anti-BOE and anti-MacCormack crowd are the silent majority, then they need to make themselves heard in the next election or bring 1,000+ people to a BOE meeting and have 2,000 signatures on their petition (think there are like 6,700 kids in school right)?

    My point is that in a place like Montclair – almost every issue has some amount of people complaining about it vocally as if it’s the biggest problem the world faces. “Privatize muni services” – here come all the muni workers to take over the counsel meeting. “Common Core” – here are 500 people denouncing the Super and Robin Kulwin as facists. “Assisted living facility” – hundred people at a meeting to make the developer evil (is it a stupid idea – of course it is but we elected Fried which was also a bad idea!). “New police chief babysitter positon” – officers in droves at the meeting and posters yelling about it back and forth.

    Meanwhile……. I still can’t figure out why sometimes we have bulk pickup every other Wed and why sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I can’t get the town arborist to return a call so that the town can take their trees out from the curb one day allowing me to repair my sidewalk (this has gone on for 2 and 1/2 years). I also have hit numerous potholes all over town – also for years now. However, I do like my neighbors, the schools and the teachers we have had. Personally my kids are having positive experiences so far. And out of many, many parents and teachers I have spoken to (we have hosted teacher toasts, attended toasts, attended events, the kids do activities and we are also somewhat active in the school), only one friend (1!) has openly discussed how upset she is about the BOE and the common core – she could be one of you. But then her husband disagreed with her about it and actually made more sense.

  57. The school board need to fire its lawyer immediately.

    First of all, he appears to be either the worst investigator on the planet, or the most disingenuous. Most of this bill seems to be from issues he mishandled. His little exploration of his non-existent subpoena powers were quite expensive. And it has produced exactly the same information that was readily available to him at the beginning of the investigation–the assessments weren’t stolen, they were improperly stored.

    As for David Cummings portion of the bill–also Tabakin’s fault. He was entitled to look at D. Cummings official school board correspondence and nothing else. He could have received this information via an OPRA (which he might have known had the board only paid him more to educate himself). It’s not clear to me than anyone would have been entitled to more of Mr. Cummings information than that–especially considering that this is not an investigation of a crime (if it were, then Mr. Tabikin’s actions would probably be jeopardizing the actual investigation).

    As for Robin Kulwin being upset that people wouldn’t cooperate with her–she needs to get a grip. This is America. We have the right of due process. And last time I checked, school boards are not part of the criminal justice system–not even when they are using their imaginary subpoena powers to pursue crimes that never occurred.

    Seriously, this is the worst “Law and Order: MBOE” episode ever.

  58. “only one friend (1!) has openly discussed how upset she is about the BOE and the common core”

    Oh, so you did do a survey. I was thinking you were using anecdotal evidence. I’m thoroughly convinced now that you have your finger firmly on the pulse of Montclair.

  59. Meanwhile……. I still can’t figure out why sometimes we have bulk pickup every other Wed and why sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I can’t get the town arborist to return a call so that the town can take their trees out from the curb one day allowing me to repair my sidewalk (this has gone on for 2 and 1/2 years). I also have hit numerous potholes all over town – also for years now. However, I do like my neighbors, the schools and the teachers we have had. Personally my kids are having positive experiences so far. And out of many, many parents and teachers I have spoken to (we have hosted teacher toasts, attended toasts, attended events, the kids do activities and we are also somewhat active in the school), only one friend (1!) has openly discussed how upset she is about the BOE and the common core – she could be one of you. But then her husband disagreed with her about it and actually made more sense.

    I’m going to print this out and tape it to my refrigerator and read it over every once in a while as a kind of meditation.

  60. @Walleroo and cspn55. LOL. Seriously. I’m laughing so hard I can barely type. Thank you!

    Regardless of who is at fault that’s a whole lot of $ for a series of events that could have been avoided (@fishoutofvodka). How does one get the township to ask for a justification of the billing or contest it (@Frank Rubacky @ 11:02 pm)? Can a bunch of citizens make a stink and offer to boycott the law firms doing this work? I know lawyers have to eat, too, but this is CRAZY!

  61. For people who think opponents of the Common Core are in the minority, perhaps you need to check out what is going on in states like NY, Indiana and South Carolina. At least 23 states have some kind of push back going on, but South Carolina’s Govenor wants out and is asking for legislation, NY has legislation in place and the teacher’s union has withdrawn support for the Common Core and passed a vote of no confidence resolution against their broad trained education Commisioner, John King. Parents, teachers and political representatives are in a uproar over the standards and implementation. Children are vomiting at their desks during tests and a new condition is being identified and labeled as Common Core Syndrome. School Counselors are seeing an increase in children cutting themselves. And the other day, Indiana became the first state to pass legislation to end the Standards.

    There is no research to show the standards will accomplish what proponents say they will. But I will not ask you to take my word. Take the word of Jason Zimba, one of the authors of the Common Core. Here is a link of him talking to Professor Sandra Stotsky. Professor Stotsky was one of 5 members of the validation committee who refused to sign off on the standards. This clip has Jason Zimba explaining why the standards will not get your child into a College a parent would “aspire”to.


    And here is Professor Stotsky discussing language arts, etc.

    Watch these videos and then explain to me why I should buy into Common Core. I will be very interested to discuss.

  62. skeptical,
    Justification is probably immaterial. Contesting is essential. The BOE should retain another attorney to advise them on whether to compensate Mr Cummings’ legal expenses and handle any negotiations resulting from their decision. My suggestion is in no way a knock on Mr Tabakin or his firm. It is just that I feel a client has a certain common sense obligation to recognize & segregate the various interests.

  63. A reality check. Beside these quarterly Assessments being $$ costly here , they are also pretty costly to my child’s education. In our Middle School his “quarterly assessment” just brought his high A down to a B for the quarter. He got a C on this one test. A test that was not made by the teacher who has been teaching him. Besides their wallets, are parents aware of the cost these Assessments are having on their children?

  64. Qby33 is right. The Bullock teachers complained too much time was taken on the assessments and not enough to actually teach. Curiculum um has been narrowed. My son gets virtually no science or social studies. I know of a parent upset because the teacher didn’t teach all of the algebra units, but because the assessments can’t be written based off what the kids were taught or postponed, the teacher sent home a text book for the kids to learn the units on their own. And this is 30 percent of their grade. Kids are being tested two or three times on the same subject. How is there any learning taking place?

  65. Frank, really is that the best you can do, make a wise crack about a state that apparently doesn’t live up to your high standards? No addressing the situation in NY and did you even watch the video clips. One of the three authors of the math standards is admitting they will not be enough to pursue a career in math or science and will not get you into a college or university any parent would “aspire” to and you have nothing to say about that? Or Professor Stotsky explaining why the ELA standards are not good? No comment on that?

    Surely a proponent of the Common Core must have something to say about these videos.

  66. Yes, the opposition to the Common Core is gaining momentum in many states as parents and teachers wake up to how the slavish devotion to testing is interfering with the process of learning. I have been speaking to parents who are just becoming aware of how the testing is lowering their high school and middle school kids’ grades. More importantly, I am hearing about how students and teachers alike are pressured to the point where any joy in learning is being destroyed. We are heading toward raising a generation of turned-off robots.

    And then follow the money and see how this whole policy was started and funded by billionaires who are reaping big benefits while they destroy public education. The schools where they send their children are not run this way.

    Repeatedly I am hearing people say that they would not have chosen Montclair had they known that the enlightened, progressive school system would be going in this direction. If this continues this town will not be a place that thinking people will choose.

    And just for the record, the current regime is going way beyond the requirements of the Common Core. The assessments that have been designed are purely a product of McCormack’s regime.

  67. My comment was directed at someone who has 5 children and reads Bkids regularly, but does not post. For that person, it was a pretty good comment for many reasons.

    If South Carolina can’t take a few cracks, then let them try and secede, again.

    I am not a proponent of the common core and never was. Once I realized that 45 of our very diverse, but united states had signed up, I said, “pilot to copilot, we’re going down”.
    Of course, the existing patchwork curriculum is a pretty sad indictment of the status of educational practice today. But we sell it as customized education, so it works property value-wise.

    I feel badly about all the Bullock children throwing up because of the pressure they are feeling. Logically, the blame most likely lies with the P’s & the T’s in the Bullock PTA.

  68. @latebloomer you are right on. Not sure who you are, but I like you! The Assessments were rolled out too fast and our kids are paying the price. Teachers are beyond stressed and kids are too. And that’s right! The people who are creating this mess don’t send their kids to public school. We are currently looking into where we can move to give our kid a better chance. Sadly we thought that place was here.

  69. qby33, I like you too! I feel like we should be singing a Mr. Rogers song. I hate to see good people thinking about leaving this town. Though if my kids were still in the schools I’d be thinking about it too. Or maybe I would be staying and fighting like hell.

  70. Prank, clearly I am very frustrated at this point. Too many people are either turning a deaf ear to what is going on or just have their own agenda and don’t care what the standards are doing to education and what all this excessive testing is doing to our kids. And I was actually referring to the kids in NY vomiting at their desks during the PAARCS exams.

    I purchased a book for my son entitled “What Every Second Grader Should Know”. It Is part of a series that gives an overview for each grade level what an average child would ideally learn by the end of the school year. The book is from 1998 and covers Language Arts, Math, Science, History, Geography and Fine Arts. The difference between what was taught then compared to now is stunning. This is a robust curriculum that I was exposed to as a child. Compared to what is in this book, my son is learning virtually nothing.

    Late bloomer, thank you for your very accurate and thoughtful appraisal of the situation. Like qby33, we are reconsidering our decision to raise our family in Montclair as this is not what we signed on for. But for now, I am fighting like hell and promised my son I would not give up even if that does mean at some point having to leave to provide him with the education we were promised.

  71. Qbs kid got a C….fire the super immediately!

    That’s a joke. And I am becoming an opponent of common core, but this is something the progressives from 50,000 feet up are pushing on the country. Since economically disadvantaged kids (mostly minority) have this ridiculous achievement gap, this is their solution. My feeling is that everyone in a town like Montclair has access to the same good school system so every parent, especially the poor ones, should be at least smart enough to seize that opportunity and get their kids into a better position than they are. Poverty can be conquered one person at a time. But this solution will likely dumb down the system for those who should be excelling to help those at the bottom. This is classic liberal-progressivism and while I am by no means conservative, I’m surprised that all the posters who are big time liberal-progressives are surprised by this? You really think gates and broad care to make money off this? These guys have more money than they will ever spend. They want to solve what they think are problems and this is philanthropy for them. So much like affirmative action it is looking to level a playing field. So if qbs kid gets a C but our overall scores go up two years from now when the reformers can gut the “test proven”
    broken system to fix it….they will pat themselves on their backs that economically disadvantaged kids scored x-points better in 2016 wo the gap is closing. If you want to change it stop being lock step voters with a party and find solid people to rep you.

  72. Cspn55 do you really believe these reformer policies will lower the achievement gap? In New York, they have already widened the acheivement gap https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/achievement-gap-widens-city-new-standardized-tests-article-1.1423531

    This article shows how the No Child Left Behind Act caused a widening of the acheivement gap in the Greater Hartfort Region.https://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/2011/12/07/how-the-no-child-left-behind-act-widened-achievement-gaps-in-the-greater-hartford-region/

    I have a ton more articles I could link to show the adverse effects of standardized testing and little to show for positives.

    I think it is admirable to want to believe in the good of people like Gates and Broad but dangerous to be so naive. They have made clear both by words and actions that their agendas do not include what is best for o ur children. Gates in writing has refered to our schools as a new marketplace and our children as a work force. You dont have to look further than Broad Academy trained NY Education Commisioner John King or Broad trained Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson to see Broad’s motivation is anything but the best interest of our children.

    These reform polices have had severe negative consequences on children and neighborhoods. What is happening in Newark and Camden is simply apppalling. And all in the name of “education reform”.

    I do agree that we need to show our elected officials how we feel with our votes. It is time that they remember they work for us.

    And judging from Monday’s meeting it seems clear our Superintendent could also use a reminder. And our volunteer BOE as as though we work for them. Volunteer or not, they are supposed to answer to the taxpayers and act in the best interests of our children. Ignoring their pleas, those of their parents and teachers doesn’t seem terribly responsive to me.

  73. To be clear, I don’t favor or disfavor common core and standardized testing. I try to stay out of the art/science of education and limit my focus on the business of education.

    But, 1998 was an interesting year as a baseline.
    In 1998, the Montclair Public Schools had 5,700 students, a $55MM operating budget, a $1.3MM surplus and $29MM in debt and Pre-K was eliminated.
    In 2013, the Montclair Public Schools had 6,500 students, a $115MM operating budget, a $12.8MM surplus and $87MM in debt.

    In summary, Montclair’s education costs have more than doubled in 15 years, averaging over a 5% increase annually. So when you talk about reform and accountability, let’s be all inclusive as I don’t think we can blame just the current superintendent and BOE for the last 15 years. By your own point, 1998 was a far better period in our educational achievement and by my point, more economical for the beneficiaries.

  74. Frank, you are correct. I am not just blaming the current Superintendent and BOE. I am blaming the entire corporate reform movement, Goals 2000, the No Child Left Behind Act, Race to the Top, etc.

    My point is the reform movement is not working and is in fact causing harm.

    And if I could build a time machine and take my children back to 1998 or better the 1970’s when I was in elementary school I would.

  75. nycmontclair,
    I think you should have included the MEA & PTA – and the taxpayers – in sharing the blame.
    As to the 1970s, you grew up somewhere else. Suffice it to say, the 70’s & early 80’s were not glorious times for the MPS.

  76. Nycmtc….I don’t know enough to definitely think that common core will close the real gap between rich and poor or minorities and whites/Asians but it may make our test scores and ranking look better in NJ Monthly a few years down the road. Sure my kid may be bored and maybe better off at mka or some private school but that’s the edict from DC. I do find it ironic that in that state of the union Obama said something about kids’ learning being more than what fills a dot on a test but yet I think his DOE and backers are the driving force behind common core. Since Montclair goes like 80+ pct democratic and liberal it is not surprising we have an Obama administration program in town but it is surprising that many here who only vote democratic are surprised and dismayed that we have this program. I don’t love or hate Obama but he imposes a pretty imperial presidency and we have the powers that be telling us now that we have to implement common core since that’s what these folks think is best for us. They tell us that this is how we will compete globally as a nation going fwd.

  77. Frank, you are right: I didn’t grow up in NJ, I grew up in Queens. Despite having over 30 kids per class, we were able to get a well rounded education. We did have monotonous, standardized tests, but certainly not the test frenzy we have today. Life was not perfect. Certainly had a few bad teachers, but overall mostly a positive experience academically with mostly wonderful teachers. I was bullied however, so that issue still exists as well.

    I’m not going to argue about the politics either. Frankly, I see no difference in the educational policies of either party and corruption seems to run equally on both sides.

    And should everyone share the blame, sure. I share blame for not being aware of what was going in this country till the last year or so. My oldest is only 7 so I didn’t follow what was going on in the education world as closely as I should have and clearly many of us are guilty of that. And yes, people on all sides often run their own agenda. But now that I am aware, I do constant research and that is why I have acess to so much information. And I find it all very depressing. Our children are pawns caught up in the middle of corporate reform and both sides of our party system’s political agendas. And yes, I did find the president’s speech to be ironic. Either he has no clue as to what his own education policies are or he thinks using double speak will fool us. When I studied 1984 in school I had no idea I would eventually be living it.

    So, if anyone has a time machine, please give me a call.

  78. @qby33, please go talk about your experience with Gail Clarke at the district’s office. If you don’t think the test accurately measures your child’s mastery of the material, she needs to hear it. I would also suggest you ask her about your options for “opting out” of the test retroactively–as well as opting out of future quarterly assessment.

    Building a quality assessment is difficult–and despite the hard work of the teachers last summer, it’s not what happened here. The quarterly assessments haven’t been properly vetted to see if they’re measuring what they are suppose to measure. Some of the questions are confusingly worded. Some of them are developmentally inappropriate.

    And while I’d like to think that these issues will be addressed as we move along, I think it is fair to say that the quarterly assessments are still in the “experimental” phase. As such, they shouldn’t be a significant part of any student’s grade.

  79. cspn, Common Core has enough wrong with it to make both liberals and conservatives dislike it. Obama likes it, but Jindal and Jeb Bush LOVE it, so don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s a liberal plot just because more and more people on the right have come to hate CC of late.

    Part of the appeal of the Common Core initiative from the beginning was that it was a non-partisan group creating the standards (National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers) and it was free from Federal Government intrusion. It seemed like a good idea, common standards for the nation, higher academic standards and graduation requirements, improved assessments, and more accountability for teachers. Sadly the process went off the tracks as there was just too much influence by interests that had something to gain in how the CC was created and implemented.

    Please keep in mind that the CC came along well before Obama, and many of the early proponents were right leaning, but unfortunately Obama took the step of basically bribing the states to adopt the CC by offering Race to the Top grants to states that adopted “internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the work place”. States could adopt any standards they wanted that would meet that goal, but the Common Core automatically met that requirement, and that provided a strong incentive for states to adopt the ready made package that was the Common Core State Standards.

    Now, as states begin to use the CCSS, and prepare their districts for the PARCC test, they are discovering that it’s not what they really want for their schools. It’s not a matter of right or left, it’s a matter of states being able to control their own schools as they wish.

    For me, the irony is all the right leaning folks suddenly coming around to question the CC and the Feds taking control of their schools, when so may on the left see it as a corporate dominated effort supported by the right. Again, there’s enough for both sides to hate.

  80. I find myself hesitating when Michelle Malkin agrees with me…

    Of course she tries to paint CC as “meddling [by] Fed Ed bureaucrats and cash-hungry special interests who think they know what’s best for our kids” but she also recognizes that some of the biggest supporters of the corporate school reform movement come from the right with “Big-government Republicans such as Jeb Bush and flip-flopping Mike Huckabee”.

    With so many state dropping CCSS or delaying implementation, and parents on the right and left finding things to dislike about it, I think it’s a no brainer that NJ needs to drop the CC.

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