Montclair Board of Education Says It “Does Not Condone Racism” in Statement

Montclair, NJ – Montclair Board of Education has issued a statement in response to concerns regarding policies regarding racism and the issue of how the Board conducts public meetings.

In response to recent community concerns voiced about the Montclair school district and its practices, the Montclair Board of Education emphasizes that it does not condone racism in any form within our public schools. Montclair Public Schools are governed by Board Policy No. 0263.1, entitled Education Equity and Anti-Racism, which is available on the District’s website.

We expect this policy to be followed by every single staff member who works in the Montclair School District. The Montclair Board of Education is mindful of the public sentiment and concerns involving systemic bias, diversity in hiring, and equity. The Board has taken appropriate internal action in response to the community’s concerns and stands by the public apology made by the Superintendent. After years of instability and turnover in administrative leadership, the District is in the midst of a tremendous body of work that will serve as the foundation towards maintaining educational excellence for all of our students.

The Board has engaged the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) to conduct an aggressive and active search for a permanent Superintendent to be hired on or before July 1, 2020. The Board seeks a candidate with a demonstrated history and practice in racial equity, anti-racism and a background in addressing systemic bias in public education. The Board is committed to hiring a permanent Superintendent who will move our District forward through partnership with all stakeholders and maintain educational excellence for all our children.

The Board is required by law to maintain order and security at all public meetings. We respect the right of the public to speak at meetings during the public comment portion of the agenda. The Board embraces differing opinions, including content that is controversial, critical or unpopular.

With respect to the conduct of our Board meetings, the Board President will direct anyone causing a disruption of our public meeting to cease, before asking that individual to leave. The Board President will take reasonable measures to ensure public safety at meetings. Board policy addresses and reflects how the Board conducts public meetings, including the amount of time allotted for individual comments.

The Board requests that no member of the public engage in conduct that disrupts the meeting, verbally harasses or physically intimidates or threatens members of the Board, District employees, or members of the public, and especially our students/children. There was threatening behavior and language observed and overheard at our meetings and such behavior cannot be tolerated and does not represent the values of the community of Montclair.

Given the escalating tension in the discourse at the past several meetings, this Board made the difficult decision to invite the school resource officer, an employee of the Montclair School district through the Montclair Police Department, to attend our sessions. This was a painful decision that was not made lightly. It was not intended to stifle public opinion, but to create and maintain an environment where differing opinions could be presented and discussed respectfully.

We encourage all members of our community to embrace our diversity, our values and our schools, but to do so respectfully, which will serve as an example for our students. The Board encourages you to continue providing us with your thoughts, your criticisms, and your feedback. It is together that we combat racism and maintain educational equity for all students, while focusing on the hiring of a permanent Superintendent of Schools.
Thank you.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. “There was threatening behavior and language observed and overheard at our meetings and such behavior cannot be tolerated and does not represent the values of the community of Montclair.” Why then do you tolerate Nathan Parker’s threatening behavior and language? How are you citing a policy you have not upheld? Who is overseeing you? It appears no one, hence the community outcry.

  2. The silence is really bothering me – but, over the Achievement Gap presentation slide on mathematics proficiency. The data was intended to show the racial Achievement Gap.
    Instead, go up a level – exclude the by race segmentation and simply rearrange the total numbers to show 2 shocking (to me) facts:

    1) Our students suck at math. The numbers show 1 in 2 middle schoolers tested are not meeting minimum State proficiency levels. 1 in 2! It gets worse. 3 out 4 (75%) of high school students tested are not meeting minimum State proficiency levels. Blame racism, blame standardized testing, blame global warming. To ignore, dismiss, or minimize these results is wrong. But, let’s.

    Instead, let’s hear from the MEA (they’re in the classrooms) and what level they would gauge the student proficiencies…and let’s agree to go with that.

    2) Our students have sucked at math at a relatively consistent level the last 4 years, with he exception of last year’s high school class. They distinguished themselves in sucking.

    Hopefully we can bury these results so they don’t influence the Spring real estate market.

  3. This BOE is out of control. But first and foremost let me say, that they gave a pass to Dr Parker. For some reason, they let his ignorant statements at TWO NAACP meetings slide. Ok, that aside let’s discuss what they are doing next. They are changing policy on public comment. What strikes me a crazy, is I just watched a video from some years back where people came out yelling and screaming about this? Where are THEY today? Where are they when policies are no longer discussed in public? Where are they when everything they used to fight against is happening right now in plain sight?

    I suspect this is because this is the BOE that they wanted. These are their friends. The folks they have a direct line to.

    So, here we have a Board that thinks they can bend the rules. They go against the same things they themselves used to fight against.

    Everyone has an agenda. No one has a core.

  4. Frank Rubacky the fact that you feel comfortable even commenting on this article, attempting to disrespectfully push your self centered concerns, that are completely off topic. Your sarcastic reference to the silence of math scores marginalizes the position of those who represent the most vulnerable, but you know this. You probably also so know how that cultivates racism……and you probably like it.

  5. Believe it or not, I meant to post this under Dave Astor’s thread in response to Michael Joseph’s comment on ‘the silence’. When I realized my mistake, it did seem more appropriate content for this thread and, no offense to Dave Astor’s popular thread, more people would read it here. Yes, my mispost’s ‘silence’ reference obviously is weird, but ended up being a very good attention-getting wordplay.

    I’m actually surprised and fundamentally disagree with you the is off the topic of racism. If it wasn’t for Montclair’s failing education institution, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Please try to understand this if you are going to represent our most vulnerable.

  6. msjohn62,

    Have you ever stopped for a moment and considered why the MEA has not weighed in on the Mr Parker’s response?

    Think a moment about that.

    Maybe you should ask Councilor Spiller?

    Ask David Herron.

    Ask the Mayor.

    Ask Mr Pelham.

    Ask the clergy.

  7. “Montclair Board of Education has issued a statement”

    How is this possible? When did they meet to discuss, draft and agree this statement? Where did they meet?

    How long will the Montclair BoE continue to flaunt the law? And they then have the audacity to do this while using such coarse language to lay down the law to parents.

    These people are experts at “School Superintendent searches.” They are experts at spending time and money on looking for that hen that will lay the golden egg and save a failing school district. They will certainly now offer an astronomical sum to their next savior. And no matter how good or bad the next School Superintendent in Montclair is, that person will fail appallingly. Working for a BoE that cannot even run a meeting is an impossibility.

    Montclair needs a new BoE much more than it needs a new School Superintendent. The mayor has made a mess of his appointments and the council sits on its hands as the fiasco unfolds.

    Frank, you are entirely right. And your post is the most important. “3 out 4 (75%) of high school students tested are not meeting minimum State proficiency levels.” One child not meeting minimum proficiency levels is an utter failure. But this. How will Montclair graduates ever survive the digital and technological world of today, girl or boy, black or white?

    This is not acceptable. The circus song and dance of the BoE meetings needs to end. They need to do their business in public, with the public. They need to respect the law. They need to respect the parents and the people of this town. Yes, even the NIBPA. And they need to use transparency as their default position, not as the one thing they want to guard against. It is time for some maturity.

    Frankly, I was disposed to accept Mr. Parker’s apology. I do not believe he is a racist, and I can accept he misspoke or that we misunderstood. But the failure of him and the BoE to engage our community and our grievances means that he can no longer effectively fulfill his position. The district would be better off with no Super. His statement to the parents on February 19, went far too far: “I will teach you respect.”

    Why is his apology and this statement from the BoE not on the district website?

    “3 out 4 (75%) of high school students tested are not meeting minimum State proficiency levels.” It does not matter what ward you live in. It does not matter the color of your skin or your religion. It does not even matter if you send your children to MKA or the district schools. Even if you should only care about your property value and nothing else. This fact matters.

  8. You are focused on control. That’s your thing. Fine. Your box is over there.

    I’m just relating and influencing.

  9. And why would I go to the people you mentioned about racist comments and/or its impact, when in the township of Montclair there are very, very, very, very, few individuals who are black that authentically address racism and who are qualified to do so. Mr. Rubacky if you are paying attention, you know who they are and who they are not.

  10. What I am saying to you Rubacky is that your self centeredness is very evident. You have taken an entire report that clearly shows something very wrong has been happening to children of color and have managed to make that about you and what you find important. Do you have the ability to stay focused? If so we can continue this conversation, if you do not you can find someone else to go back and forth with to try and bait the real conversation that you want to have, which disregards children of color.

  11. Wow, I don’t know. So, the Mayor, Councilor, the President of the MEA, the President of the NAACP and Montclair’s clergy are not being authentic in addressing racism?

    I think I need to pay attention more – at least try to better discern authenticity.

    I’ll be honest, I don’t know how to check people’s qualifications. Don’t take this the wrong way, but how do I check an anonymous person’s qualifications?

  12. I am not talking about myself…..I am talking about transparent demonstration of ability and responsiveness. Have any of the people you mentioned addressed this? Isn’t that the reason why you called out their names?

  13. The Mayor – he’s our mayor
    Mr Spiller – he is running for mayor and has the NJEA perspective
    MEA President Robertson – because I have heard ad nauseam from the union members over many years about how the teachers know best because they are in the classroom and the paras are so valuable in assisting struggling students.
    And I like to pick on them as part of the triumvirate of foolishness (the BoE, the MEA and the parents)
    NAACP President Pelham – he offers a unique perspective various interests within the black community
    The Clergy – because you need local arbiters of right and wrong

  14. First, forget Parker’s answer to the question. It is the question put to Mr Parker that should be put to them.
    Second, they all have transparency and interest issues which will affect their answers.

    The obvious answer to the question is the instructor should be fired. Count how many agree with me.

  15. If they are compromised to be “authentic” and capable, you are helping to make my point and proves you already know. So why mention their names? And when are you going to address your role?

  16. Following this statement, which appears to be unlawfully written, maybe it is time that there is some accountability for the Montclair Board of Education and its present and recent members.

    It would be useful for the BoE to undergo a government audit. There are excellent companies that perform this service. And it could be done for less money than is spent on a single search for a superintendent.

    A government audit would allow for the examination of the structure and governance of the BoE, a review of its expenditures and programs, a review of the relationship between the board and its external contractors (including its lawyers), and a review for integrity and corruption. The review could start in September 2013 and go to the present.

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