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.