Montclair Schools Superintendent Asks Parents To Take Down Petition, Social Media Posts

Montclair Schools Superintendent Kendra Johnson, in a letter to Renaissance Middle School and Glenfield Middle School parents and caregivers last week, requested that a petition — created and signed by parents that raised concerns about a staff member in the district — and any references to said petition on social media, be removed.

The petition, first created and circulated in June by Renaissance parents, expressed concerns about a staff member made by Renaissance parents. The petition was taken down after Johnson’s letter.

Superintendent Johnson states in her letter:

I received several emails regarding a petition posted on social media. By virtue of this communication, I am writing to inform all stakeholders that the petition includes misrepresentations and inaccurate information. Furthermore, two staff members’ names and their easily identifiable positions are disclosed. Due to the inaccurate information being posted, I am respectfully requesting that this petition, all references to this petition and information disclosed be removed from all social media platforms.

There is a formal process to submit complaints; however, the current petition is inappropriate and is not akin to who we say we are as a community. Our students, staff and parents/guardians deserve confidentiality. Additionally, student records and personnel records are protected by law. Parents/guardians/communities are not entitled to receive personnel information. While I occasionally regret not being able to lawfully disclose more detailed information in certain situations, making derogatory and inaccurate comments about staff members and/or indicating clearly identifiable characteristics associated with their job assignments are not appropriate.

To directly address a few inquiries, please note:

1. All deliberations regarding personnel decisions are confidential.
2. Personnel transfers are recommendations made by the Superintendent to the Board of Education. I stand behind every personnel transfer I have made to date.

Please note my decisions to transfer staff members were based on the best interests of the students, staff and school communities. There were no outside factors that impacted my decision. For example, a decision to transfer any staff member has absolutely nothing to do with a petition of this sort. And, I do not support or encourage such activities.

For the 2017-2018 school year, I served as the district investigator. I am keenly aware of the allegations asserted in the petition and I declare, unequivocally, that information is misrepresented and inaccurate. Such misrepresentations and inaccuracies could result in legal claims of libel and/or slander by those impacted by the statements. Caution should be exercised. We are a community that welcomes voice, input and feedback.

However, I encourage you to submit your voice, input and feedback in a respectable, professional and affirming manner. As many would agree, we must be the example of what we hope to see in others. Moreover, we must realize that our children are always watching us, and we must be mindful of what we elect to show them.

I thank all of you in advance for your cooperation and your consideration to immediately remove this petition and/or information disclosed therein from all social media platforms.

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  1. I’m not a parent at either school, but was pretty turned off by this letter’s tone, repetitions, grammatical mistakes, and unfortunate word choices (“by virtue of,” “akin to,” etc.). And heaven help the recipients who had no idea what she was talking about! The superintendent has tremendous power over our kids’ education and I just find a communication like this a bit worrying.

  2. I’m concerned about the imbalance of support. Every staff member has an entire union behind them. Each family, though, is supposed to act as if they’re completely alone, with parents blocked from sharing information and collaborating for the good of their children.

    While some parents can afford lawyers to help improve the balance, this isn’t true of everyone. More, one family, thinking its experience unique, may not consider pushing that hard for “just one incident”. What that family doesn’t know, because we’re prevented from working together, is that this experience may not be at all unique.

    Given that we’re still discovering consequences to the Church’s lack of transparency, and the harm brought to so many children by that obscurity, I’m astounded that we’re still trying promote a similar culture here.


  3. Dr. Johnson is correct here. The post on the Montclair Watercooler immediately had it’s comments turned off and was deleted shortly thereafter. The results in other online forums, attacks on this teacher, were about what was to be expected. Parents are not having collaboration and information sharing blocked. Phone calls and emails on the topic most certainly happen and anyone may create other forums to discuss the topic privately if they want. This can be done in a matter of minutes. Do your research, share your opinions respectfully and privately, and then follow up through the channels set up by the BoE as Dr. Johnson describes. Is that really so difficult? I’m sort of surprised the teachers’ union hasn’t taken a more vocal stand in support of their member here. What are those dues for if you can’t get a bit of help in cases like this? JB

  4. “Is that really so difficult?”

    It is if you’ve no idea what other families might be involved, or even if other families might be involved. “Phone calls and emails on the topic” require exactly the information that the district is trying to keep hidden.

    “What are those dues for if you can’t get a bit of help”

    Exactly. The staff have paid professional advocates that are kept informed by the district. Parents – and our students – have no such advocates, and are kept in the dark. Thus the imbalance.


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