Montclair Board of Education Anne Mernin resigned at Wednesday’s BOE meeting, citing a “cruel and inaccurate” anonymous email campaign. Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson released this statement Friday:
I am sad that Anne Mernin has resigned from the Board of Education. I was honored to appoint and reappoint her.
Anne, Michael, Cheryl, and I met as Northeast School parents and I have considered her a friend and leading citizen of our community ever since. Her work with Tony’s Kitchen is legendary; improving the lives of “the least of these” every day and bringing accolades to our community. In fact, residents overwhelmingly consider Anne as the “Mother Teresa” of Montclair. The innovative Montclair Bounce Festival that Anne spearheaded was a smashing success, as it brought residents together to seek a kinder and gentler community.
Ironically, Anne became the victim of an unkind and anything-but-gentle individual or cabal, leveling allegations involving residency, property taxes, and, most appallingly, her child. The allegations were presented to me via an email in late 2019 (from “Whistleblower”) and repeated this month (from “Whistleblower/LauraLyn”). As I am required to do, I presented the allegations to our Law Department and the Board of Education. The allegations were investigated and proven to be without merit then and now.
As public officials, we unfortunately have to accept vitriol, rude/crude behavior, baseless allegations, etc. as coming with the territory. This “given” notwithstanding, involving Anne’s daughter in the matter is cruel and gratuitous. Being unhappy with Anne’s performance, educational philosophy, or collegiality on the Board can never justify hurting a child. Moreover, revealing the details of a child’s education status in this circumstance is a violation of Federal Law. According to the Whistleblower, Anne’s seeking what she believes to be the best educational strategy for her child is an abuse of power (as a Board of Education member) and a diversion of funds from minority students. I have two reactions: BOE members are not required to forfeit their parental responsibilities and Anne’s child is African American.
Prior to any of these allegations, Anne advised me that she preferred to step down from the Board at the end of her term this Spring in order to focus her attention on the many other aspects of her life and to allow fresh faces to emerge. How sad that she had to leave early to protect her family! How reprehensible that the right decision by Anne is the result of all the wrong reasons!
Thank you, Anne, for your service on the Board of Education and for your selfless, tireless commitment to Montclair.
Robert D. Jackson
Township of Montclair