Chanting “Honor the Contract” and holding signs that read “How can we teach your kids when we can’t feed ours,” Montclair teachers and staff held a Protest for Pay rally outside the Montclair Board of Education building Tuesday afternoon to protest salaries that don’t reflect a 2019 contract and ongoing payroll issues.
“It’s not enough to tell us you value us. If you valued us, you would pay us. If you valued us we would be your only priority, when you realized there were people who were not making ends meet. If you valued us you would recognize that collectively as 1100 educators in this town, if we wanted to, we could shut it down,” MEA president Petal Robertson said to a crowd of Montclair teachers and staff, as cars driving by honked in support.
Interim Superintendent Dr. Nathan Parker came outside the BOE building and listened as Robertson spoke of the hardships teachers were facing as a result of payroll errors. At 3:46 p.m., while teachers were outside the BOE rallying, an email was sent to parents from Dr. Parker, addressing the mistakes that have been made.
Dear Staff and Families,
I want to inform the Montclair community of an issue that occurred today that affected all Montclair Public School District staff members. I hope to reassure this community and gain your trust. Through an unfortunate error in the Business Office, all Montclair staff members did not receive their pay this morning. As of mid-afternoon, all direct deposits were restored. This event furthered a growing level of distrust due to a previous error in salaries for certain staff earlier this year.
District-wide culture and climate should be a priority for any school district leader as it is paramount for me. Understandably, mistakes like these have a negative impact on the way we feel about where we work. It is important for our staff members to be able to rely on their employer.
I want to acknowledge that this error occurred and apologize for this situation as well as commend the Montclair staff members for their resilience. It is unacceptable that oversights have led to these mistakes and all involved will be held accountable. It is through accountability and my increased involvement that I will diligently put systems in place to prevent errors.
I apologize for any frustration and stress this placed on our staff and their families.
Thank you for your continued support.
Dr. Nathan N. Parker
Photos: Kristin Wald