UPDATED Montclair BOE: Mayor Jackson Pulls BOE Appointees…For Now

Montclair BOE: Rumors of A New Alliance, Possible Upheaval Before New BOE Members Meet

Update (2 p.m. on 5/17) : Baristanet received this response from BOE president Jessica de Koninck:

I am writing as an individual and not on behalf of the Montclair Board of Education. I have been asked whether I intend to respond to Ms. Lombard’s letter. I do not intend to respond. Instead, I intend to continue to work to oppose the charter school application, to advance the goals of the Montclair Board of Education, to advocate for early childhood education and to address the needs of the Montclair School District.

BREAKING: Mayor Jackson will be pulling his new BOE appointees — Rev. Jevon Caldwell-Gross: Pastor, Joe Kavesh, Esq and Franklin Turner, Ph.D. Per state law, because Jackson has not replaced David Deutsch, Robin Kulwin and David Cummings, they remain on the board for now, until they are replaced.

“The temperature in town is hot, to say the least, and this gives us an opportunity to have a cooling off period and for people to have further conversation and hopefully get it to a better place,” Jackson said this afternoon. “We need to hit a reset button, keep the status quo for a while, put the kids first, and not create a crazy scene. Then we can see if time buys us a little healing.”

“I anguished over it, but as the day rolled on, it was clear to me that we were building up to something that would not be pleasant,” says Jackson, of his decision today to pull Caldwell-Gross, Turner and Kavesh from becoming BOE members tonight.

Jackson added that this did not mean that the three proposed appointees were taken out of consideration completely but that the process was on hold.

If any of the rumors of back channel discussions regarding BOE members present and soon to be sworn in are true, then Montclair’s Board of Education meeting tonight will look more like an episode of Survivor. There’s talk of a new alliance (between BOE member Laura Hertzog and newly appointed members) discussions of who to vote in or retain as BOE president, and a possible blindside.

New board members.
New board members.

Montclair Kids First (MKF) put out an email blast today, alluding to division on the board, and stating that the “majority of the new Montclair Public Schools Board of Education members favor a change in the leadership of their Board.”

According to MKF, sources say that current BOE president Jessica de Koninck, along with Anne Mernin and Eve Robinson, have suggested that they would resign from the Board if de Koninck is not reelected President.

Baristanet reached out to de Koninck, as well as new appointee Joe Kavesh, and will publish any responses we receive. We also contacted Mayor Jackson to see if he could shed some light on the purported discord between his BOE appointees, both past and present.

Meanwhile, former BOE president and board member Shelly Lombard, who signed as author of the MKF email blast, also wrote the following in an email to Baristanet:

First, this is not the United Kingdom. No one is entitled to be the Queen just because, well, they want to be.

Second, while I don’t believe this is racially-motivated, there is something really troubling about people trying to stop two African Americans who actually have school-age children (Hertzog and Franklin Turner) from being president and Vice President in favor of two white women who haven’t had kids in the schools for years. Thank goodness James Harris and the local NAACP refused to aid and abet this politically-motivated nonsense.

Third, isn’t it a bit unsavory to have politicos applying heavy pressure to keep the mother of the manager of Sean Spiller’s re-election campaign as Board president, especially when Spiller’s union members are currently in contract negotiations with the Board?

It was roughly a year ago when the BOE welcomed two new members and board members elected de Koninck as president, replacing David Deutsch.

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  1. There must be hallucinogenics released into the HS Annex air at night before and during school board meetings. It’s causing normally sane adults to act out and go politically crazy. Either that, or many people here now have sexual frustrations run amok.

  2. I think it makes total sense. What better place is there for children who masquerade as parents to serve than on the Montclair BOE? Perhaps they simply didn’t have enough recess time in elementary school?

  3. Nobody gets to be Queen Bee while Shelly’s still around. She got hot sauce in her bag, swag! Is Ms H going to come in swinging a baseball bat drinking lemonade? Interesting that the race card is being played by someone who shut down programs to help Black Children achieve (except for her own); but hey, let’s get in formation!

  4. Besides running the meeting, etc., what additional authorities do the President & Vice President hold?

  5. Queen Shelley, who took her child out of MHS, didn’t seem to mind when a white woman whose children had long left the public schools succeeded her as president. Her use of the race card has been consistently shameful and damaging, as was, for black children, her refusal to lift a finger for early childhood development (read Pre-K) during her (too) many years on the board.

  6. Mayor Jackson responds — appointees are pulled and per state law, David Deutsch, Robin Kulwin and David Cummings remain on board. See update above.

  7. Oh, Mecca! While we’re rolling out the Queen Bey, I think the lines, “Don’t take my kindness for weakness/I’m here to handle my business,” may apply to DeKonick, Mernin, and Robinson.

    Oh to be a fly on the wall!

  8. I hope that whomever is eventually sworn in, whether or not they are the three Jackson is now delaying, can make a calmer entrance. Without having even been seated, I can only imagine that these three gentlemen have had pressure of all sorts put on them from various factions around town. And if they do end up serving, which may not be a bad thing (we have no way to judge as of yet; they haven’t yet cast a single vote, after all) I believe that after this they will be more cautious in treading the political waters. I know I would be.

  9. First it was Sinead O’Connor and now, Shelly Lombard. Boy, all of this missing former notables are surfacing today, aren’t they?

  10. Can’t the Mayor appoint his candidates (since the past members have already moved on and the chairs vacant), and have the functions of the president and VP taken up on a rotating basis (maybe 2 months at a time) by all the members of the board? Change the rules to allow this if needed, but stop the impasse. Whosever turn it is to be BOE President can meet with the Superintendant when and if the need arises. This will not end well otherwise I fear.

  11. The whole district should be a charter. I hear that means no BOE and no teachers union. Maybe things will get done for the benefit for the students.

  12. Sadly, there was no third act performance at tonight’s meeting. A couple of warm ups and first acts..but Dave Herron – the main attraction last time – was a decided no show.

    I heard that’s because the three new A list performers — all the antagonists — were cut from their scenes too early. And then the theater ran out of popcorn. So the audience didn’t fill the seats. After that, Laura Hertzog’s role was even left on the cutting room floor.

    Maybe Herron and company will do a cameo next run after Executive Producer Robert Jackson re-casts. Herron knows you shouldn’t play to an empty house.

  13. I’m at a loss for what’s occurring at multiple levels.

    For one: can the Mayor withdraw appointments? He’s required to have made them by some time last month. They’re made. How can he unmake them? Would that attempt at revisionism not put him in violation of the requirement to have the appointments specified by that date?

    For another: Why is any of this happening? At least as far as I know, there was no outrage or complaining about the appointments when they were announced. What is the point of this ridiculous ruckus over who holds the metaphorical gavel?


  14. I have no idea what is really behind this whole thing. In a functional way, it doesn’t really matter. But, regardless, the coup d’etat failed and, yes, it will be interesting to see the next set of appointees from the #4 thru #10 list of candidates that didn’t make the last cut.

    As unbelievable at it may sound, I actually underestimated how dysfunctional and poisonous the Montclair educational culture is. The absolutely amazing part….by far and away….is we are seeing the return of the previous dysfunctional BoE (legalities aside). Now, all we need to do is have the Mayor appoint Councilor Russo to the BoSE.

  15. How is this a “coup d’etat” that failed? I see one that appears to be succeeding. Most years – including last, when De Koninck was elected to the presidency – the process involves a simple election and quiet handover. The coup is in preventing that handover.

    Can the Mayor legally change his appointments as you seem to be assuming he will? They were due weeks ago.

    If the new BOE includes the three current appointees and Laura Hertzog leads it, then I’ll consider the coup to have failed.


  16. I’m assuming some combination of the new and old will withdraw/resign. Ms De Koninck is a logical candidate to leave as well of at least one of the 3 previously appointed ones. Quite frankly, I would wonder why 2 of these guys would still want to serve as 2nd class members.

  17. Well, that was interesting: every alphabet in town was represented…all put on notice of a “power play” by a sitting board member who had caucused with the newest members, who hadn’t even had a chance to be sworn in…that was announced on social media at 9:30 am…then re-confirmed by a past board member as a racially motivated response by those board members no longer with children in schools (a brand new qualifier for board membership)…all that was missing were the lawyers (bet they were within texting/FB/Tweet distance…

  18. Quite simply Andrew, the Mayor should butt out at this point, but he has chosen not to. His role is defined to appoint the new members. He has done that. It is their responsibility to determine who the new President and VP are. He did choose excellent new nominees. Two of the three were on my Adult School Board, as was Ms. Hertzog, briefly. That they have been involved in the process enough to voice their opinion on it is a good/great thing. Shame on the Mayor for sticking his nose in it just because it didn’t meet his expectations. It really is all his doing, so the “place” it got to was on him. The skeptic in me thinks he is calling for a cooling down period just because he needs time to work out a politically acceptable solution for others who also should not be in the process (look to the Spiller campaign contribution list for some). As many speakers on each side of the debate correctly noted last night, this should be about the kids and not politics. The Mayor should heed this advice and take his opinion elsewhere. PS – @therealworld Herron has already filed an OPRA request in regard to this issue, so I’m sure you’ll get your chance to see him again, and his (empty) shovel.

  19. Tom Lehrer – National Brotherhood Week selected verses…..

    Oh, the white folks hate the black folks,
    And the black folks hate the white folks.
    To hate all but the right folks
    Is an old established rule.

    Oh, the poor folks hate the rich folks,
    And the rich folks hate the poor folks.
    All of my folks hate all of your folks,
    It’s american as apple pie.

    But during national brotherhood week, national brotherhood week,
    It’s national everyone-smile-at-one-another-hood week.
    Be nice to people who
    Are inferior to you.
    It’s only for a week, so have no fear.
    Be grateful that it doesn’t last all year!

  20. “… the Mayor should butt out at this point, but he has chosen not to. His role is defined to appoint the new members. He has done that. It is their responsibility to determine who the new President and VP are. He did choose excellent new nominees. Two of the three were on my Adult School Board, as was Ms. Hertzog, briefly. That they have been involved in the process enough to voice their opinion on it is a good/great thing. Shame on the Mayor for sticking his nose in it just because it didn’t meet his expectations.”

    Well said Jon. Not only were the 2 African-American nominees pulled (apparently for having the “audacity” to think that a new BOE President might be warranted … now clearly proven correct), but the third nominee chairs the Civil Rights Committee and by all measures has done a great job in that capacity. Moreover, that nominee is also a Library board trustee. Let’s see: Civil Rights Committee, Montclair Public Library … clearly that individual could not possibly have any decent judgment.

  21. If you are going to undermine the lead of the Mayor who appointed you then you certainly don’t forecast it before hand so everyone knows and definitely not before you have legal standing to actually make those moves.

    The three new appointees, if rumors of their attempt to change the guard are true — should now be kicked to the curb. First, for their lack of political savvy in operating — second for not knowing the full legal procedures needed here before they actually tried to make their moves. Both show poor preparation and bad judgement.

    If reality, they needed to have told the Mayor upfront of their dissatisfaction with the direction and leadership of Ms. De Konninick et. al and have his ok for the change — if that was their intention, not make that move once coming to the table.

    This idea furthered by Mr. Bonesteel and others (when it most suits them) that the Mayor should not get involved in the politics of who runs the BOE and where they take it — is totally off. While the Mayor cannot interfere in the on-going votes and decisions of BOE members once appointed and the Board fully constituted, he clearly has interest in the direction and policies those members advocate while sitting and should determine that upfront from hearing their positions and views during vetting.

    So if new appointees decide to blind-side the Mayor, but foolishly tip their hand before to flip on a direction they know he likely won’t want..then he may have miss-judged some, or all of those new appointees.

    Better to recognize the error in selection than live with the ramifications.

    A new blood reset is likely needed.

  22. Bonesteel,
    Please help me out. Have they repealed the OPRA Laws, because I did not catch that. If they have please let me know. Otherwise, I intent to OPRA until my hearts content. Just like you guys. Most surprising, you are aware of my OPRA request, one day after it was filed. Thank you, now I know, you have one or more Board members leaking information to you.

  23. Shameful conduct removing three wonderfully qualified individuals. What has become of this town?

  24. @spotontarget

    There is NO REQUIREMENT WHAT SO EVER for potential board members to communicate any such opinions to the Mayor. Quit making things up to suit your narrative.

    If you have such documentation of a requirement, show us. Otherwise, shut up.


    I fully support your right to OPRA all you want. That you have speaks to your approach and tactics in support of our kids.


  25. Bonesteel,
    Thank you so much for your paternalistic support of my rights. Wasn’t aware that such support was required. As for the fact that I use OPRA to obtain information. Well my tactics and approach are exactly as yours. Who OPRA’D M Fine’s emails, oh I forgot, the same person who established that crazy enemy list.

    The OPRA laws are for to gain access to information not for support of kids. The establishment of OPRA was solely for the purpose of gaining access to public records, it has nothing to do with kids or the support of them. Good to read the OPRA laws.
    Support of kids are separate issue and the two are not mutually exclusive. But then I know you know that.
    But, nice try -B for effort by D for delivery.

  26. Can we take up a crowdsourcing fund for our local would-be Karl Rove’s who try so very hard to foment these little insurrections with their angry blog posts and “Must read!” posts on every town FB page? It’s just so sad to watch them spin and spin and spin their wheels trying so hard to create a fervor without ever realizing that a) they’re on stationary bikes; and b) they’re embarrassing themselves with sophomoric, transparent nonsense?

    Is there a camp we can send them to? Maybe an adult school class? “Political Operatives 101 – How to Influence Somebody… Eventually.”

    It’s just sad. Doesn’t Montclair have an obligation to address the achievement gap in our political underbelly. Such effort. So little success. Those poor dears…

  27. Mr. Bonesteel – no one said potential school board members were REQUIRED to communicate their opinions to the Mayor on the future BOE President or policy directions. However, your side’s inability to see that they SHOULD have done this beforehand politically is likely why – despite continued MKF howling to the moon over BOE inappropriateness and seeming official miss-direction, you all remain effectively outside the real decision-making narrative here.

    Clearly you and yours have not grasped how policy decisions are actually made and how political alliances form to further an elected leaders’ point of view. Blaming everything on the teacher’s union-democratic party conspiracy – is just not working.

    Indeed, one should finally begin to take stock at this point. After your reform movement supporters lost their political backing from the prior Fried administration, not only were you unable to even mount a legitimate opposition slate to the current Council and to advocate for your educational agenda, but the one candidate that you did publicly back and supported was completely hammered in this last election — 73 to 27%.

    That’s despite all of the moral storm and drag asserted over Councilor Spiller’s seeming “conflicts” from serving on the Board of School Estimate.

    The bottom line is that your positions are just not selling here. And the end run manner which your side then attempts to impose them and operates to achieve your goals – does not work.

    Sadly, some of your underlying positions – the serious need to improve teaching quality and actually addressing the achievement gap goals – do need to be much better served.

    Nonetheless, the Mayor just took you and yours down. Whether he throws you back a bone or two to keep you at the “healing” table – remains to be seen.

  28. Boy oh boy..the people commenting on this thread should seriously be embarrassed. It’s just pathetic already. Calling each other “idiots” and telling each other to “shut up”?! Great example you are all setting for the kids you all claim to be serving. Good thing they don’t waste their time reading this like we do.

    If anyone still believes this entire MCAS/MFK feud is anything about children and students, and not a bunch of childish personal vendettas and character attacks is seriously fooling themselves. It all reads like a middle school playground fight over who hit who first….pathetic. Grow up already. We should just put three high schoolers on the board…we would all better off.

  29. This was being talked about over the weekend and on Monday by newly appointed, but as yet not sworn in board members, as to what they, in concert with a sitting board member were going to do. Like adolescents on Face Book advertising the fight after school in order to get a big crowd. Except, that’s not how it goes. All she had to do was walk in with her majority in hand, and handle her business. But no.
    Since an audience was wanted, the word was sent out,
    and the Queen ordered everyone to show up and out.
    Once again, Children/Families were going to be used to
    satisfy someone’s political agenda. The Mayor did what
    he is supposed to do. It’s an appointed board. He is
    perfectly within legal rights to rescind the appointments.
    He can also ask for the resignation of the sitting board
    member who fomented this attempt outside of legal boundaries (as some wanted him to do when it was another board member). Time to reset/rewind. There is too much that needs to be done.

  30. If half of the energy exhausted by the reformy crowd and the pro-union crowd was spent on reducing the achievement gap, it might have been eliminated by now. Instead, it’s completely wasted on empty shovels, OPRA antics and character assassinations (and of mainly volunteers). All of you should come to a Glen Ridge BOE meeting. There are no politics at play. Just a lot of decisions being made to try to do what is best for our children. I change my mind. Please stay away.

  31. Patch is saying the re-org meeting is rescheduled to Thursday @ 6:30. I guess it has been resolved, although I wonder about the short notice.

  32. If Jackson does decide to pull these appointments for good and choose replacements, I sure hope state law is crystal clear on his ability to do so, otherwise I smell another lawsuit brewing.

    On the bright side you will all be able to stop bickering over how much taxpayer dollars were wasted on Assessment gate and can now figure out how much more will be wasted here.

    The circus will be a great selling point for the upcoming Superintendent vacancy too.

  33. Updated above with response from Jessica de Koninck:

    “I am writing as an individual and not on behalf of the Montclair Board of Education. I have been asked whether I intend to respond to Ms. Lombard’s letter. I do not intend to respond. Instead, I intend to continue to work to oppose the charter school application, to advance the goals of the Montclair Board of Education, to advocate for early childhood education and to address the needs of the Montclair School District.”

  34. Stu,
    We may be raucous, even dysfunctional, but we are also a reflection of our differences, in a whole lot of ways that, in essence, prepares our children for a world much more like Montclair than Glen Ridge. So, yes, while these battles are painful and sometimes unnecessary (the new appointees apparently didn’t get the message that the town was trying to move past the bullying and backroom machinations of the Lockstep With Penny board), I think I would speak for most of us by saying we are happy to not be Glen Ridge (though I love riding my bike down Ridgewood Ave. and I have been tempted to consider downsizing to the Reserve on Park Ave)

  35. montclairpublic,

    I respect your decision to send your kids to a school system rife with conflict, poor decision making and that wants to think it is fighting the fight for the rest of us. I’m glad our board focuses solely on providing the best education for our children rather than wasting it’s time and energy on motivational speakers for the football team, building schools it doesn’t need and fighting lawsuits that provide no benefit to the student population. I saw where the buses didn’t show up for a fifth grade field trip to the Meadowlands Environmental Center last week. Conversely, they showed up early when I volunteered to chaperone my son’s class to the same location. Perhaps Montclair is preparing kids for commuting on Decamp?

  36. We should stop making excuses. Our achievement gap is not limited to our students. The children are learning this, too.

  37. Montclairreformer
    Thanks for providing that info. But you have to research deeper. There is procedures in place if you don’t swear in a BOE member and the steps needed to accomplish compliance. Your quoted statute is only one part, of a complex issue. There are many pieces to the statues that address this issue, and it is someone complicated. Continue your research and you should be able to find it.

  38. The Mayor had every right to ask prospective appointees questions before he appointed them. After he appointed them, he has no right to control their decisions. The politically appointed board is supposed to be INDEPENDENT. It sounds Mr. Jackson he did not do his homework and lock down their votes on whom they would support for Board President when he should have. It is too late now. He is the mayor, not a dictator. The new appointees had a training session and an opportunity to see the current president, Jessica De Koninck in action. They were obviously disappointed in her behavior. They also had an opportunity to watch her meeting management skills and appalling lack thereof during the past year. When Ms. De Koninck came onboard as president, there was a hope that, as the darling of the MEA and anti-PARCC contingent, she would be able to rein in their tantrums at every possible opportunity. There was hope she would be able to focus the Board on their stated mission. She failed miserably. Her passive aggressive style of only allowing certain voices to drone on ad infinitum but curtailing others, then getting cranky and whiny at the end of extremely long meeting was lame. Her endless patience for the screaming, nasty venters who “needed to be heard” but short attention spans for those who wanted to discuss actual issues impacting students was unfortunate. She feels entitled to remain president/prom queen/senior class president shows that she thinks her role is to win a popularity contest with the Mayor’s political bedfellows. Her job is to run effective meetings. She does not have the confidence of the majority of her fellow board members who seemed to have wanted to respectfully vote her out and move on quietly. It seems her political consultant son has advised her that this is better played in the back hall special interest arena and the Montclair School students are better off having this ugly spectacle instead of doing the business of voting for or against policy agenda items. Doing so is dragging the names of people Mr. Jackson spoke so highly of a week ago through the mud. Her behavior is childish, petty and low. It is time to grow up or step down Ms. De Koninck.

  39. As a parent of two children in the Montclair School system, I’m angered by the lack of focus on our students.

    Instead we have political drama, power trips, and a dysfunctional district.

    Rather than working on important things, like completing the new district policy which started in 2015 and still hasn’t been finalized or starting the search for our Superintendent (Our Interim Bolandi is gone next April 30 and, to my knowledge, the search hasn’t even started), we have this embarrassment.

  40. I am angered by the continued lack of equity in our staffing and district; I am angered at the diversion of money from students to uncertified staffing and mindless investigations; I am angered at the dismantling of programs that directly impacted struggling students by the same people who decry voices that complain about this issue; I am angered at the lack of community relationships between our schools, board, and Families; I am angered that people were emboldened to talk about causing an unneeded and embarrassing disruption in the district, than cry foul when their unbridled egos got in the way of good governance; I am angered that we have taken three steps forward, and now find ourselves four back; I am angered that we ever let someone come in here and cause this managed chaos in the first place.
    So, now we start over. Hopefully we can focus on the charter application, strengthening our Math and ELA curricula, and bringing back a World Language program for all students. We have work to do.

  41. You sound angry. What do you mean by “lack of equity?”

    I don’t understand the politics of this struggle well enough to know who to root for. It’s like a gang fight where everyone looks the same. Can some one break it down? Is a321 right that De Konnick is pro-labor? So Spiller is pulling for her? That makes me oppose her but she is a poet, which is good. And does the coup mean new appointees and Herzog are pro-capital (joke), I mean less pro-labor? Someone please ‘splain it to me so I can start to have strong feelings.

  42. a321
    Wow, such an incoherent babble. You have such anger, which you really should have addressed. After reading your post several times, you remind me of someone coming off their meds. I do not agree with many posters, but I do understand their POV. But your post, is not even grounded in any logical sequential logic. It’s more of an angry diatribe attack, on just about, everyone. Your bellicose rambling appears to be a cry for help, which, if my guess is correct, is not your first cry for attention. Hoping this is not an emotional trigger for you. All of this is quite important, but not so important that one should lose all sense of objectivity.

    We shall all get through this. It’s not all that.

  43. Dherron. I think you may have my anger confused with meccamagic who was pretty clear about their well-placed anger. You often come across as confused, so it is not so surprising. Thank you for your concern for my health, but you may want to think about attending medical school before you attempt to diagnose me. It is actually pretty funny though coming from someone who is comfortable screeching like a raving lunatic, making creepy crazy accusations and waving a shovel in a desperate attempt to get attention. One problem – how do people get into medical school if they are opposed to standardized tests like the MCATs?

  44. elcamino,

    I can’t help you except to:

    1. suggest watching the video of the May 4th mtg – in the context of this ego-fest unfolding now. Make sure you watch the vote on the Deutsch resolution.

    2. repeat what I said a good while back…that something happens to good people once they get on the BoE. The odds are certainly against maintaining the good reputation anyone has going in. It doesn’t matter which side they stake out, they all eventually gravitate to something worse – ineffectualness.

  45. It is kind of interesting to remember this time last year – when the newly constituted BoE decided to vote in a new president. When David Deutsch found out he was being replaced, he nominated Ms De Koninck. He supported the progression, the changing of the guard himself. He respected the office and the democratic process. It was a pretty classy move especially now with 20/20 hindsight. I wonder if those new board members cleared it with Mr. Jackson first. Anyone know the answer to that?

  46. News Flash:


    Citing the need for more open debate and more diversity as the proven path to ensure system-wide math and English retention skills, Mayor Jackson announced today that three unnamed High School students from CGI (Civics, Government Institute – Small Learning Community) would replace his original selections for new Board of Education member appointees, in the interests of “healing” to better help Montclair Township.

    Jackson said there would be a white, a black and an Asian student appointed now to serve and to fully reflect Montclair’s growing population from that part of the world.

    “Clearly these students from CGI have a skill set that allows them to tolerate debate on issues and policies without turning it into personal invective and character assassination,” opined the Mayor.

    Jackson said further that his multi-ethnic selections were needed today given new proven, social science diversity linkage between race, ethnicity and the retention of core math and English skills.

    More diversity is increasingly advocated as the solution to every single education problem in Montclair today by speakers such as former New Jersey NAACP chair James Harris.

    “These students have what’s been lacking from our prior adult populations and that’s why I believe a change is needed,” Jackson said.

    Reaction and opposition to the Mayor’s new initiative was swift. Supporters from both MCAS and MKF were quick to criticize the Mayor over such issues as age discrimination for intentionally removing older adults and the refusal of two of the high school appointees to previously take the PARC tests when offered.

    OPRA requests were immediately filed by both sides to determine if the Mayor’s actions were fully legal.

  47. “2nd class members.”

    How would any members of the new BOE be “2nd class”? Mr. Deutsch was not rendered such when he handed over the presidency last year. I still feel like I’m missing some huge piece to this bizarre puzzle.


  48. “Instead we have political drama, power trips, and a dysfunctional district.”

    I’ve written this before, but it bears repeating (sadly). One of the potential selling points of a charter school to the state is the independence of that school from a BOE. Having a dysfunctional BOE – whether truly dysfunctional as it appears today or merely under unfounded but persistent attack as we’ve seen over the past few years – provides useful material for the charter proponents.

    Disagreement is fine, but accusations of malfeasance and such – and especially drama such as we’re seeing this week – provide aid to those that would seek to impose a charter school here.


  49. further to Andrew’s point, if we ever did move to an elected board, given the sleazy, attack-campaign tactics the hired gun campaign managers/consultants have used in this town coupled backing funds coming in from lobby groups and PACs (and this can be on either side of the issues) and many fellow Montclairians acceptance of such tactics……. well, I don’t see how an elected board won’t just be more of the same fiasco that we face right now. It in fact may be even more of a cluster-#$%!

  50. Yes, Andrew, I would agree with you. And I would also wonder why the letter of opposition to the charter school is being held up by a sitting board member, when neighboring BOE’s, including Stu’s beloved Glen Ridge, have already sent theirs. One would almost think that smoke is being generated to allow Fulbright to come in under cover, and then blame others for letting it happen.

  51. Andrew,

    This is not about any presidency. We’ll get some clarity tomorrow night.

    And with an elected board we’ll get a 3rd, separate election.

  52. “held up by a sitting board member” I’m unaware of this. Who is holding it up, and why?

    “with an elected board we’ll get a 3rd, separate election” True, but that doesn’t invalidate cspn55’s opinion. It could very well end up being “a separate election” also largely funded by interests from outside Montclair.

    That said, I still believe it would be better than having a *single politician* appointing an entire BOE (which is what we’re seeing today). This is not an attack on our current Mayor; I don’t think this power should be vested in any (potential) mayor.

    “not about any presidency” I’d like to know what, then. As I wrote, there was no visible outcry when the appointments were announced.

    Unfortunately, I’ve another board meeting – which I cannot miss given that I’m a board member in this case – scheduled for Thursday. These short/quick reschedulings are unfair. One of the speakers at the Monday meeting addressed this point, as it happens.

    I understand “stuff happens”, and weather or illness or whatnot can force this. But I cannot recall ever hearing before of a meeting cancelled due to drama.


  53. It was an “and” clause.

    Relax Andrew. Between the OPRA requests and spotontarget, it will all come out at some point.

    As dherron said, “We shall all get through this. It’s not all that.” Even with with a charter school.

  54. Stu,
    that “unnecessary” school you refer to happens to be the heart of that community, the neediest in town, providing a whole host of crucial services, not to mention a nurturing educational environment. You wouldn’t know that, lobbing your grenades at our district from across the border. Enjoy your homogeneity.

  55. meccamagic,

    I don’t understand why the resolution to send the letter opposing this charter school was not approved Monday. I understood there was a full board present and clearly that board never supported a charter school application before. Was it a procedural roadblock?

  56. Sorry, Frank…the board voted Monday to delay all board business until tomorrow, and just took public comments.

  57. “the board voted Monday to delay all board business until tomorrow, and just took public comments”


    There may be a perfectly legitimate reason. For example, the group sitting there may not have legally consisted of the board, including people with expired terms and missing people that had been appointed. Any action may therefore be subject to challenge.

    You wrote above “the letter of opposition to the charter school is being held up by a sitting board member”. I’d like to know who is doing this and why. Or is this merely caught up with all other business behind the delay in constituting the new board?


  58. montclairpublic,

    Somehow, while lobbing grenades, our BOE managed to file their objection to the charter. I suppose homogeny = timeliness. BTW, rather than attacking the slightly less liberal residents in town, my wife personally engaged our GR BOE over the potential problems that Fulbright might create for us. Looking forward to seeing the lawsuits filed against your mayor for his overdue change of heart. In GR we use shovels for gardening. Glad you like the results along Ridgewood Ave.

  59. Why bring back the former members for such a meeting? Is it part of a potential legal defense of the question when a term technically expires? If so, holding the meeting cuts another way.

    The opportunity existed to act (it also would have with just 4 members) and it was agreed among the Board not to act. It could go to Andrew’s point on dysfucntionality. And/or, it could be interpreted in Trenton that the resolution would not have passed the”old” board or the “new” board and that Montclair wanted a 2nd bite of the apple to find a “revised” board, possibly constituted under duress or undue influence, that would pass the resolution.

  60. agideon, it was Ms. Hertzog who suggested delaying the vote on approving the letter. “Why” is a very good question, especially in light of her then maneuvering to take the board presidency. I, too, am curious.

  61. stu,

    While I don’t gleefully (let alone smugly) “look forward” to lawsuits about the question, Glen Ridge’s longstanding, persistent whiteness, despite the fact that it is bordered on all sides by communities of color, is the sort of thing that can provoke much more serious legal actions (because it is implicit evidence of deliberate discriminatory practices) than any of the silly legal maneuvers that may (or may not) happen here in your previous town. And there are signs that people who could force this issue are methodically and responsibly “making the case” before, you know, actually making a case.

    From the 2013 Rutgers U report on “apartheid schools”:

    “Co-existing in a single, compact county [Essex County] are a dozen virtually all white and Asian suburban districts with tiny poverty levels and four urban districts with virtually no white or Asian students and staggeringly high poverty levels. Surely if New Jersey’s twin constitutional commands of equalizing educational opportunities and assuring racial balance wherever feasible are to have any real-world meaning, this is a county where the state must act.” (https://ielp.rutgers.edu/docs/IELP%20final%20report%20on%20apartheid%20schools%20101013.pdf)

    You might consider being a little less smug about your current town’s superiority over the one you left behind, given the fact that it has traditionally been and is still essentially (in every way except by name) an HOA with an implicit “mostly whites” policy at its core.

  62. Persistent whiteness? Get off your racist high horse. I really should leave it at that. But I won’t. If you want to continue to live in your Meathead fantasy world where you believe that you are somehow superior for living in a town which is far from as integrated as most would like to think it is, more power to you. I won’t interfere. Going by your standard, I suppose everyone who chooses to live in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire are racist too. Or is it just those who moved there from Massachusetts? Perhaps it’s those state’s policies that promote their persistent whiteness? Get off it man. If you want to think less of me for moving two houses over the border, so be it. But such actions will not get you into the next secret Glen Ridge Klan rally.

  63. I don’t believe I’m superior, Stu. Scroll up. There’s someone above whose first comment was clearly designed to make other people feel inferior for living where they live, and it wasn’t me (hint: it was you). My comment was a push-back against *your* superior attitude.

    For the record, I don’t think Montclair is some sort of integrated utopia. Montclair is segregated residentially, just like the rest of Essex County (and much of the country). The difference is that Upper Montclair was long ago compelled to integrate its schools to partly mitigate the residential segregation. The checkerboard of Essex County school districts overall, however, looks like what Montclair looked like before it was forced to integrate, and towns such as Glen Ridge today look a lot like, say, the neighborhood of Upper Montclair did prior to Montclair’s school integration. That IELP report that I linked to above suggests that people are noticing this fact (again). Probably nothing will come of it, mainly because a lot of powerful people are deeply invested in a sense of the unequivocal superiority of their school systems over neighboring ones. But you never know.

  64. I wouldn’t argue that one school system is superior to the other at educating their children. I would say that one school system is more organized by leaps and bounds over the other. Is this due to race? No! So why bring it up?

  65. I suffer from “persistent whiteness.” Always have.

    Stu, you’re being uncharacteristically naïve asking why someone in Montclair would bring up race. Race-baiting works here like no place I’ve seen. Just about everything in Montclair is about race-affordable housing, disparate suspension rates, “over-development” of 3rd and 4th ward, spiller on BOSE, Lackawanna lacking grocery store, possibly this BOE fiasco. No local NAACP issue or event seems too small for MT to cover on front page. I suspect even some die-hard progressives grow weary of it but stay mum to maintain their inclusive credentials.

  66. Regarding tonight’s meeting: Bolandi doesn’t have a Ph.D. He’s not a “Doctor.” I wish people would stop calling him “Dr. Bolandi.”

    Regarding race: if your district doesn’t have an “achievement gap,” if it doesn’t have more than a handful of students on free or reduced lunch, it’s de facto an easier task to manage that district and thereby to appear that you have your sh*t together, than it is to manage a district where there is a wide variety of students from many different socioeconomic or racial backgrounds. In the latter sort of district, there’s simply going to be a lot of passionate disagreement about paths forward, and that disagreement is sometimes going to have the appearance of dysfunction.

  67. No, you made it about race. Not economics. Not cultural differences. You should own it, not waffle.

    Appearance of dysfunction? Maitre d’, table for 1 please.

  68. I’m sure it was the ratio of kids who qualify for free lunch that caused the teacher, by the way, that is paid on average $10,000 more annually than their equivalent in Glen Ridge, to forget to schedule the buses for their field trip. I’m sure the board failed to vote on the charter school opposition letter because they were too busy focusing on solving the achievement gap. Race sounds more like an excuse than a reason to me. But what do I know? I only live on a street that the New York Times labeled the most integrated street in the country. I just happen to live in one of the five homes that are persistently white.

  69. willjames may be disowning, but he’s right that racial heterogeneity complicates policymaking. It’s why U.S. will never be Denmark, and why Glen Ridge BOE meetings don’t require cops, but Montclair’s apparently do.

    But race aside, Glenridge has unionized teachers too, same union in fact. Why isn’t teachers’ union in Glenridge dominating BOE meetings like here? Do they not have a Spiller, the booger you can’t flick?

  70. Here’s a thought experiment: what if Essex County were a city, not a county? Same border, just a city rather than a county. It would be, basically, “Newark.” “Newark” would have a population of roughly 800,000 people (the equivalent of Charlotte, NC) in roughly 129 square miles (the equivalent of Lynchburg, TN). The city overall would have approximately 45% white residents and 40% African American residents. It would have a bunch of neighborhoods named things such as “Bloomfield,” and “Montclair,” and “East Orange,” all of which border a much smaller neighborhood called “Glen Ridge.” You tell me: if we all lived in the consolidated city of “Newark,” do you think the schools in the “Glen Ridge” neighborhood would be allowed to remain over 85% white, while the schools in the neighborhood directly to the south, “East Orange,” were nearly 90% African American? And while the schools in the “Montclair” neighborhood to the west were roughly reflective of the racial composition of the city overall? If “Glen Ridge” existed in its current form demographically, but as a neighborhood in a larger city rather than a township within a county, what do you think we could call such a neighborhood? Don’t you think that state or federal officials would in that scenario consider the schools there and directly to the south to be an instance of extreme school segregation?

  71. That is an unique argument. I guess a State named the “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” must really irk you. Let’s just fold it into the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Or, we can argue stupidly that States have a certain amount of self-determination. As much as we want a perfect union, we can not override.

    Let’s see, NJ has this thing called Home Rule. A concept derived from what authority? Right, it also spawned 565 municipalities and even more school districts (close to 600). I don’t know how that came about, but we’re New Jersey!

    PS: You are a short-timer here or you would have known about the 042’s Southeast and Edgemont Schools’ racial breakdowns pre-desegregation order. Some of the old-timers -older than me – told me about our 5th Ward. Really. We had 5 Wards.

  72. Are you suggesting glen ridge actively (“implicity”) keeps African Americans out? By what means? Maybe they are just priced out? Not a lot of African Americans in Upper Montclair either.

  73. Very true. The number for Clifton & Montclair (Upper Montclair) is probably between 5-10%. Of course, the same can be said of the 11th Congressional District. Or on a smaller scale, the 1st & 7th districts in Ward 3.

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