The Montclair Education Association (MEA) released a statement Tuesday, in advance of a scheduled hearing in the matter of Montclair BOE v Montclair Education Association, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. The statement is in anticipation of the judge rendering a decision. The MEA wants to go on record for what they stand for before the judge makes a ruling. Here is the statement in full:
The Montclair Education Association (MEA) reviewed the certification submitted by the Montclair School District on March 5, 2021. Upon review of the paperwork, the association maintains the position that student, family, and member safety are of the utmost importance.
The requests by the association have been very simple and based upon the assurances the district provided. Prior to a return to in-person instruction, the district promised the MEA a report from EI following building remediations, collaboration on a sound educational plan, and superintendent informational meetings with each building. The follow-through on these items would have gone a long way in building trust and demonstrating a desire for authentic collaboration. Unfortunately, none of these things occurred.
Based on the district’s certification, we now know that EI did not return to Montclair before the scheduled January return date, hence making documentation an impossibility. The certification also demonstrates that educational plans, safety protocols, and member questions were not addressed prior to the scheduled reopening in January. We are not assuming the failure to follow through on these assurances was nefarious on the part of the district. After all, it is not now nor has it ever been our goal to vilify or to be vilified. Rather we believe it is more integral to always operate in truth.
The MEA’s return to in-person instruction was always predicated on safe buildings and sound educational plans. Accusations of the association delaying a reopening in an effort to stall for vaccines is merely false. We do encourage our members to be vaccinated now that educators are eligible; however, that was never a premise in our discussions with the district.
The MEA is not in a “battle” with any person or entity. In fact, that type of rhetoric poisons the public and brings us further from restoration. We were disappointed with the district’s decision to file a lawsuit and still believe, if the district was willing to admit the remediations were never completed, we could have worked collaboratively to resolve the issues and make the schools safe.
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.
Albeit litigation was not our choice, it was worth the difficulty to assure our students’ and staff’s safety. It also provided validation for our members, who were consistently calling attention to the district’s lack of transparency and action. We stand by our convictions and will continue to support and advocate for our students, families, and members moving forward.