Montclair BOE v. MEA Settlement: Elementary Schools to Open April 12, Contingent on Walk Through

    A settlement was reached and Montclair elementary schools are set to reopen for in person learning, pending deliverables and contingent on a walk through.

    Update from Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Ponds:


    The Montclair Public School District is pleased that the Montclair Education Association (MEA) has committed to in-person instruction at the elementary schools commencing on April 12. We will work collaboratively with the MEA during walkthroughs scheduled for the week of March 22 and provide them with the remaining items they requested. We are planning to release a full, official statement Wednesday.

    Updated with statement from Councilor At Large Peter Yacobellis:

    I’m excited to see a settlement reached between the Montclair School District and the Montclair Education Association to open elementary schools for hybrid learning on April 12th.

    I won’t feel at ease until the conditions outlined in the settlement are met. But this is a good sign and I’m happy that we are most likely moving beyond what I saw as an unnecessarily divisive battle in court.

    There’s a lot more work to do in terms of getting teachers vaccinated, understanding and being able to address learning loss and preparing for what I hope will be a full time return in the fall.

    Stay hopeful and positive.

    Updated with statement from Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller:

    A safe return to in person instruction is an objective shared by all, and now in light of today’s settlement, appears to be just around the corner. Recovering from COVID-19 as a community won’t happen overnight, but getting our kids and staff back in the classroom safely is a key and necessary step forward. As we continue making strides towards normalcy, I want to encourage everyone to remember that especially when facing our most daunting challenges we must never lose sight of our shared values, our shared love for our township, and our mutual respect for one another. We are all in this together and together is how we’re going to get through it. “

    Montclair, N.J. – A judge is keeping the docket open in the matter of Montclair BOE v. Montclair Education Association, but a settlement was reached today regarding schools reopening for in person learning.

    “While I consider this matter settled I am going to keep the docket open until mid to late April,” said Judge Paganelli.

    Elementary school students who opted for hybrid will be able return to classrooms for in person learning on Monday, April 12, pending deliverables required for the opening to take place. The MEA’s attorney also indicated that the return by its members remains contingent on walk throughs to be conducted March 22

    A Montclair Education Association statement, released before the two parties met before the judge, seemed to indicate that a settlement would be forthcoming.

    “It is only due to the MEA standing firmly on its need to ensure safe buildings that the district finally brought in EI in March to revisit the spaces and provide protocol and process information to the association,” the MEA stated.

    Deliverables to be provided to the MEA’s attorney include bus contract with cleaning protocols; building cleaning frequency and products to be used; entry and dismissal plan from principals of each building; and how snacks will be handled in each building.


    This is a developing story

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Montclair just hit the 2,000 case mark yesterday. By June 30th, that will be 50+% higher (3,000+ get the math challenged) and the deaths 50% higher.

    FYI, it took us 8 months to get our first 1,000 cases (End Nov). Not four months later, we have doubled it. The good news is the case count seems to be stabilizing at the new high and the death total is within tolerances.

    MSPD might have to be slightly flexible on that April12th date. But, not by much.

  2. Spiller sounds more like a preacher than a mayor. I don’t really need a mayor espousing love all around. MEA can spin and spin but I predict it and teachers unions sound the country will be less “loved” After this.

  3. Lacamina, I predict the MEA will be remembered — by reasonable people, anyway — as having spared this town much illness and some death by refusing to buy the district’s double talk about building remediation. Apparently the judge agreed–and still, deal and all, is keeping the case open to make sure the district proves the classrooms are ready. I’m sure you would have been thrilled with the tax hikes when the lawsuits started flying after victimized families went after the district for trying to open in January without recommended remediation. This resolution was always within view–only the entitled and the anti-unionists with their ever-jerking knees refused to see it.

  4. This was a pretty predictable outcome. As justified as the MEA argument was for more information and transparency (seriously what was up with all the secrecy on safety compliance from the BOE), the rest of their case crumbled with the increased vaccinations, warmer weather, other districts returning and vociferous lack of support within their own town. Looking at the list of MEA demands, there was a real possibility of not returning to in person schooling until 2022 or later.
    The moment the lawsuit was filed, it was like the BOE moved their chips to the center of the table to see which case held up and today we see the MEA folding. If the cards were stronger, you’d see this play out in court.
    I am extremely happy for both the children and teachers who wanted to return, as both parties do their best work in person. While there will be challenges ahead, at least we now have all sides cooperating to fight for a future return to normalcy.

  5. Like I said, spin and spin. Teachers unions have one stake holder: teachers. They pretend it’s about families and students and parents but aren’t fooling anyone. They had to be sued to be force to do what what parents and students wanted. It’s happening all over the country. I maintain that even union sympathizers are reevaluating, even the non-entitled and thoughtful ones (try to avoid calling names montclairpublic)

  6. “As justified as the MEA argument was for more information and transparency (seriously what was up with all the secrecy on safety compliance from the BOE), the rest of their case crumbled with the increased vaccinations, warmer weather, other districts returning and vociferous lack of support within their own town.”

    Far from crumbling, the MEA’s case was upheld (if you actually read what the judge twice ruled) because its principal goal was to hold out until remediation was done and proven, the weather warmed so windows could be opened without creating Antarctic conditions and vaccinations became available. Again, those who brought an agenda to this were going to do what they do–make it about their resentment of unions and their lack of respect for teachers. With this settled, they can resume complaining about teachers’ salaries and high taxes.

  7. My question is, who are the “entitled”??? What does that mean? Is that what is being taught in public schools? Scary, what will be the next college major, a BA in Victimization a BA in Entitled Guilt? Let’s tell our children the truth. An immigrant, legal or illegal is going to land in this country with a suitcase and 300 bucks and in 20 years they are going to buy your parents house. Our little entitled class or victimized class won’t be able to afford it because 15 bucks an hour and a cup full of angst doesn’t cut it.

  8. La: Teacher unions have one stakeholder: teachers. Well no kidding, that’s why they are called teacher unions. The teachers are the ones that focus on children/students and parents. The union only protects them and allows them to do their jobs. Don’t conflate the two. The only ones being fooled are those that have no idea what unions do and listen to the rhetoric of the anti union folks. This country would not have a middle class if it were not for unions, never forget that.

    As for having to be sued to do what parents and students wanted, which students and parents? The dozen that stood out by Edgemont and paraded their children around like props in a movie set? Those are the parents that you refer to? Do you think teachers don’t want to go back to the classrooms and teach safely? Get off the anti union train and support them and their constituents. They are the ones that teach your kids and are dedicated beyond what you might think. They only wanted to do it safely and finally the MEA stood up to this administration and rightly so. Now the ball is in the MBOE’s court to make sure mitigation is adhered to and teachers can return safely to the schools. I have my doubts but I’ve been wrong before.

    FS: we know exactly who are entitled and what it means. They only need to look in their mirrors once in a while.

  9. Montclair public, I agree those with skin in the game were always going to make it about their side being right and victorious all along. It couldn’t be more clear these days who is furthering their own one sided agenda as opposed to seeing situations with eyes wide open.

    I honestly don’t have skin in this game, and see both sides of the argument. It’s been fascinating to watch this play out on the sidelines.

    That said, despite how this may be spun, it’s clear when one side goes from “we don’t feel in any way safe to go back” to “we are cool with returning ASAP”, a level of factors likely didn’t turn out in that side’s favor. The judge may have acknowledged their concerns (heck it would be really dangerous not to do so), but “we are simply happy our voice was heard” was never a strong enough outcome for either side in this instance. This was a battle of “going back immediately vs waiting until these schools and the world in general are sufficiently safe again.”

    That said, if the union is legitimately happy with how this played out, that is really great news! No one wants a resentful side who feels like they are being forced into anything.

  10. Flipside, the MEA defenders here like to use that word now to describe the parents of their students who just want them to end remote learning which has been damaging to their children in so many ways. Ever since I referred to their unreasonableness regarding working with the school administration, whose duty it is to serve the children of Montclair, as “entitled behavior” they’ve clung to that word. They are not entitled but certainly displayed an “entitled attitude” in all of this…. Which is not a “good look” for them. So they shoot back and demean the other side as “entitled” people. The definition needs to be looked at (by them). They can’t even see it because of how determined they are to get their way to stay remote until they feel pretty much 100% protected/ (unlike everyone else,) despite the dire consequences to their students. Other districts, private schools, districts with old school buildings (like NYC) all over the country have returned without any increased transmission (compared to other settings that workers have been working in all along (in fact less!)according to data collected . If the children weren’t suffering from being remote for so long, then by all means let them fight for their employees to have 100% protection by teaching remote. Some risk must be assumed (like everyone else). They will say here that I don’t care if the employees get covid at work. That’s not fair. Iwouldn’t want anyone to get covid. However, lets be real and look at the risks vs. benefits, like most scientific communities must weigh (such as in medicine). Are they assuming no risk in private lives for the last year?
    Lastly they like to call anyone opposed to their staying remote for so long as “anti-union”. Or teacher haters. Such spin (speaking of spin!). I personally am not anti union and certainly don’t dislike teachers (I’ll be attacked here though for saying that). I realize that unions were invaluable to establishing the middle class in this country and fighting for much needed workers rights at the time, but they are not right in every situation that arrises; especially in today’s times. It’s about weighing both sides of this issue and being reasonable.

  11. My favorite word to have people look up before using is irreparable, as in irreparable harm. We have trained mental health specialists indiscriminately using this term.

    Another popular one in recent years (yes, a little off-topic) is homage. I laugh every time someone uses it as a synonym for preservation. Fellow MHS graduates! I must have been one of those irreparably harmed graduates of the MPSD.

  12. Kids are going back to school against unions per judge. I’d say that is victory for kids and parents over teachers and their union. Montclair public and Louie can spin til their dizzy but the truth is “transparent” to most.

    Louie, unions contributed somewhat to middle class prosperity but those were private sector unions with bosses that were profit maximizers sometimes at expense of workers (who had hard labor jobs). I’ve not seen evidence that public sector unions make much impact except for contributing to massive unfunded, defined benefit pensions that private sector workers lost years ago. How about proving me wrong on that?

    I was amused Montclairpublic is fretting about open windows and “artic” conditions. As if wearing a sweater and coat is just completely out of the question so that kids could go back to school. Is that entitlement? Btw, I don’t have kids in school so I don’t have a direct stake in this.

  13. From another Baristanet report:
    As of Tuesday, March 9th, Montclair added 31 new COVID-19 cases in one day, bringing the total confirmed cumulative cases to 2040 – 125 cases since the month started. Montclair had started March at 1915 confirmed cumulative COVID-19 cases.

    Ya think the MEA had a case that mitigation needed to be proven and vaccination for teachers had to be available?

    My last words on this: What LouieLouie said. Later.

  14. A little scary as what louielouie said about unions was fundamentally incorrect. I’ll take it in the spirit of hyperbole.

    I always get confused which phase the K-5 schools will be in. I know it is not containment because that requires testing and tracing. Maybe it is the flatten the curve? No, that would mean we have uncontrolled community spread. Maybe this rate of infections and deaths is the new normal phase? Yes, it must be. Mayor Spiller’s press release was a little unclear. Maybe the Deputy Mayor can substitute for him? Not the hindsight stuff. I’m looking for the old 30/60/90 day outlook. At least for now. Is anyone out there?

  15. That statistic settles everything.

    The mayor leads on love frank Not crisis management you’re looking for. And He’s completely hamstrung on education because his day job (which must be busy with all the union parent conflict across the land)

  16. Just a few replies to various comments. The judge did not order teachers back to school against the union. Where do some of you get your information?
    What about the unions is fundamentally wrong in my assessment?
    Public sector unions are not only about pensions. What is there to prove? It’s about working conditions, safety, wages, working hours and a host of other things places like MBOE would bypass because.. well because they could as witnessed by this latest fiasco. Postal workers, teachers, police, fire all have unions to benefit workers and collective bargain on their behalf. I just never understand why folks have a problem with that. Teachers do not work for astronomical wages and so pensions help offset some of those measly start up salaries. Who in their right mind would work for $40k with a masters in anything? Yep, dedicated teachers who just love to teach. It’s a calling and some benefits are a welcome perk.

    Does anyone here think that teachers want to work remote or would if conditions were safe for them to be in the classroom? I don’t. I know a lot of teachers here and around the country and each and every one hates remote teaching. Maybe hate is not a strong enough word, they loathe it. So stop attacking the union for trying to protect them and support teachers in their desire to be back safely. There is really not much more to say at this point.

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