Montclair Public Schools Superintendent: District Still in Mediation; Considering Various Options

Montclair, NJ – The Montclair Public School District is still hopeful it can reach a resolution through mediation with the Montclair Education Association and is considering various options to reach an agreement, according to Montclair Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Ponds, in his weekly communication to families Friday:

“Dear Families, Caregivers and Staff,
Members of my administration, legal counsel, and I have been meeting with the Montclair Education Association (MEA) since Saturday, January 23, in an attempt to reach an amicable resolution to enable the elementary school teachers and our students to return to hybrid, in-person learning.

I understand your need for further information; however, this is a sensitive situation and because we are currently in mediation and working with legal counsel, we do not want to compromise either process. It is important for everyone to feel heard, know that their safety is paramount, and that we reach the common goal of getting our students back to the classrooms.

I understand how stressful the idea of reporting to work in-person could be for some of our staff. I understand the true anxiety surrounding much of what we are dealing with today given the worldwide pandemic. I understand the discussions surrounding batch testing for COVID-19 and the situation with the distribution of vaccines. I understand and do not discount any of these concerns.

Our discussions are ongoing and open, and we are considering various options in order to reach an agreement. Please know that as soon as I am able to communicate our next steps, I will do so.”

At the end of his email, Dr. Ponds by stating: “Finally, you have my commitment that through this process I aim to forge a trusting relationship with the MEA, all of our staff, and the community. I firmly believe that a reasonable outcome can be developed collaboratively by all stakeholders with our students’ best interests in mind.”

On Wednesday, the Montclair Education Association (MEA) released a statement that no resolution has been reached in mediation talks between MEA and the Montclair Schools district.

When asked about the MEA statement, Dr. Ponds stated that the district was in consultation with its attorney.

Mediation began on Saturday, January 23, after an announcement from Dr. Ponds to parents that in person learning would not take place as scheduled on January 25.

At the last Board of Education meeting, Montclair parents spoke passionately with arguments for and against in person learning.

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