Montclair, NJ – The Montclair Education Association is scheduled to attend a mediation Saturday with Dr. Ponds and a third party mediator, but in a statement released Friday, the Association says its leadership team was met with hostility by Dr. Ponds during meetings on Friday when they asked questions about engineering reports and building readiness. That evening, Dr. Ponds notified families that Montclair Public Schools would not reopen for in person learning as scheduled Monday, citing an inability to properly staff schools.
The Montclair Education Association said in its statement:
“The Montclair Education Association was hoping to issue this release jointly with the Montclair Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Ponds, but unfortunately this is not the case. Recognizing that there are many differences with the district on the issue of reopening, especially building readiness and organizational readiness, the MEA was prepared to meet and discuss these issues.”
The MEA says meetings on Friday were first rescheduled and then cut short by Dr. Ponds after the MEA repeatedly requested documentation from the engineering company. The MEA states that Dr. Ponds told them the engineering reports are on the Montclair Public Schools website, but that they are not there.
“We are just as confused as many members of this community. Obtaining documentation that the district claims to have, and upholding the meetings the district promised should not be difficult,” said MEA President Petal Robertson. “However, it is our duty to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for our staff and a sound educational plan for our students. Dr. Ponds advised the association that we should always ‘trust, but verify’ and that is what we are doing. We have asked repeatedly for meetings, for reports, for information, and time and time again we are met with silence and obfuscation from the superintendent but no verification. We are still hopeful and willing, as we look forward to mediation. The MEA is excited to begin the collaborative work of restoring our students, staff and families.”
On its Facebook page, Montclair Education Association shared correspondence from the MEA to the district, including notes from building walkthroughs detailing outstanding concerns about building readiness.
MEA Mediation Statement
The MEA has also posted images of a presentation made to Dr. Ponds as well as this: