Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller released this statement in response to exiting BOE member Sergio Gonzalez remarks about the BOE appointment process and the MEA:
“I want to first start by thanking Mr. Gonzalez for his service on the Board of Education. I am, however, disappointed to see that he is making several false and puzzling assertions regarding the appointment of new members to the Board of Education. As Mayor, I have appointed three new members of the Board of Education who will, like the members before them, exercise independent judgement in advocating for our students and public schools. To assert that any member of our Board of Education is in some way controlled by another entity or individual is not only false, but also insulting to the intelligence of those who have served.
As a Board Member, Mr. Gonzalez was empowered for three years to help shape school policy. He is only now raising the concerns he details in his statement. It is crucial that we all listen to our students, parents and other stakeholders about how we can improve our schools, including Mr. Gonzalez, but as a Board Member he had the opportunity for three years to take action.
I am not aware of any instance where Mr. Gonzalez raised his concerns at a Board of Education meeting or was prevented from providing leadership on these issues. If Mr. Gonzalez feels that the Board of Education–to which I had made only one previous appointment–during his tenure was ineffective, then it should be self-evident why it is ultimately a good thing to bring in new perspectives. That said, I am confident that the Board of Education would welcome continued input from Mr. Gonzalez and all members of the Montclair Community.
Strong public schools are a big part of what makes Montclair special. We are fortunate to have so many passionate community members who are willing to make their voices heard. I do worry, however, that some of the narratives on social media and elsewhere are taking the discourse around how to support our public schools down an unproductive path–a path where rumors, innuendo and falsehoods drive the conversation. Our students are not well-served when education becomes a zero-sum game. Collaboration is key.
The past year has been unimaginably trying for everyone. I will continue to work to promote a good faith, open, and constructive dialogue on our public schools and look forward to seeing Dr. Ponds, the Board of Education, our parents and educators work together to put our students first.”