Montclair, NJ – Montclair School District and Montclair Education Association will see each other in court, with oral arguments expected to be heard on March 9.
“The Court did not order the temporary injunction requested by the Montclair School District required to immediately reopen schools to in-person instruction,” said Montclair Schools Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Ponds. “The Montclair Education Association was ordered to respond by March 1st. The District is to reply by March 5th. The matter is scheduled to be heard in-person by the Court on March 9, 2021. The District intends to proceed accordingly”
Montclair Education Association stated Friday that the MEA “remains hopeful that an amicable resolution with the best interests of students, staff, their families, and our community will be reached. Our position has not changed and will not change.”
The MEA also highlighted statements made by Judge James R. Paganelli, saying his responses “confirm what we have stated since the beginning.”
Judge Paganelli said the Plaintiff has failed to articulate how he has complied with the “health and safety standards, delineated the Department of Education’s ‘Checklist for Re-‐Opening of School 2020-‐ 2021’ and detailed Restart and Recovery for Education’”.
Judge Paganelli also said the Plaintiff failed to explain how continued remote learning would not address the harm to the students.
“After reading the court order from Judge Paganelli, I feel we are vindicated in our stance,” said MEA President Petal Robertson.
“While this has been difficult, we believe we must come to a solution that gets our students and staff back into the buildings as soon as they are ready. At this time, we urge Superintendent Dr. Ponds and the district to drop their case against the MEA and come back to the table ready to collaborate on a plan that facilitates the safe and organized return to in-person instruction. That’s all we have wanted and all we still want.”
Robertson added that to date, the MEA attorneys have not been required to respond to the district’s application, and therefore, the denial of the district’s requested order is based entirely on the district’s submissions.
Dr. Ponds notified Montclair School families that the district intended to file a lawsuit against the MEA on February 2. The MEA responded, stating it was disappointed in the dsitrict for “for sowing seeds of doubt and resentment between parents and educators.”