The Montclair Board of Education, according to its president Laura Hertzog, has chosen a superintendent candidate and hopes to appoint that candidate as soon as possible.
Hertzog gave this statement at the meeting:
Throughout our superintendent search, we have worked diligently to preserve confidentiality and to respect the privacy of our applicants. This was guaranteed to the applicants by our search consultants. Therefore, the board was not permitted to comment on the status of any individual. However an article was published on March 27th that had multiple inaccuracies creating a mistaken impression about the Board’s process. The Board was not asked for comment prior to publication of the article. We regret that for whatever reason inaccurate information was conveyed to the public and we hope that this serves to correct the record. First, we’ve been advised that no candidate was informed that the BOE would not be ready to make a decision anytime soon. Two – no candidate dropped out of consideration on February 27. Any withdrawals took place this month during board deliberations. Three – the board has always hoped that a decision could be made by the end of March as posted on the district’s website and as communicated to the public. Four – the majority of the board has carefully chosen a superintendent candidate who they have determined to be the finalist who will provide the leadership consistency and continue the educational excellence the students of Montclair so deserve. This person was identified as the lead candidate prior to the withdrawal of any other candidate. Five – The board is currently in negotiations with the candidate and is working through the procedural aspects of the appointment, term and employment contract. We are hopeful that our search for a superintendent will conclude with the appointment of a successful candidate as soon as possible. In addition, the board is fully familiar with the Gonzalez case and has been advised accordingly of its obligations under the law with respect to the current superintendent vacancy. I hope that addresses the concerns to the extent that we can within the confines of a confidential employment process.
Hertzog’s statement left unanswered questions for resident and parent Andrew Gideon who said this during public comment:
“I wanted to talk about the superintendent search but I’m going to step back a few months. When Mr. Bolandi was working this job, there were at least two attempts to hire technology directors for the district and in fact two people accepted the job and then something happened and they were not accepting the job. And now there is this recent news about one candidate and today a second candidate withdrawing from the pool of candidates for superintendent. That’s disturbing. I’m especially disturbed because one of the candidates was the one candidate we managed to have as a finalist that has actual experience. I don’t always agree with our mayor, as much as I do like him, but here I agree. We’re not easy. This is not a straightforward district. This is a complex district. This is not a small district. This is a large district. We, you in fact, and of course our students deserve someone who is not new to this job. One of you at the forum asked me how I felt about the pool of candidates and I expressed my disappointment that only one person had prior experience. Now two of the three candidates have now chosen prematurely withdraw. That just strikes me as odd. Something here seems off.”
David Herron also reacted to the BOE’s handling of the superintendent search:
“One of the elements and I do fully understand confidentiality however when a district is looking to hire someone it is so important that the community be apprised as much as possible without giving the perception that they are being misled, or deceived or not being dealt with in an honest fashion. What’s really important isn’t what you do or say, but the perception you give out.”
June Raegner expressed disappointment in what she sees as “a pattern of suppressing or de-legitimizing board members and they all happen to be African American. And it’s shameful.”
The announcement of the BOE hiring of student equity advocate was one bright spot during the meeting, garnering some applause from the sparsely attended meeting.
Trente Miller asked the board members during public comment to be civil with each other, adding she was depressed after the last board meeting. Some discord seemed to still be present, evidenced by board member Eve Robinson, who announced she was leaving after voting on resolutions and agenda items.
“I’m going to excuse myself, I’m not comfortable sitting here and having this discussion tonight after our discussions,” Robinson said cryptically.
This story will be updated with more coverage of the meeting.
Editor’s note: Baristanet stands by its reporting of the information supplied by two candidates, candidates which Ms. Hertzog confirmed in her statement have dropped out of consideration. Baristanet recognizes that per Ms. Hertzog’s own statement that the board was not permitted to comment on the status of any individual and therefore would not have been able to comment prior to publication of the article.