Montclair, NJ – Montclair recently hired a new communications director and while you may be hearing from the district more as a result of this hire, you will be hearing less from the Montclair Board of Education, specifically its individual members.
Following a discussion at its September 7 meeting, the Montclair BOE passed a motion to do away with board comments. Board Member Melanie Deysher made a motion to eliminate board comments and have the president of the BOE be the representative to make comments; Board member Phaedra Dunn seconded the motion. The motion passed 6-3.
BOE member Kathryn Weller-Demming was one of the members against the idea. When it came time to vote she said:
“No – and we need to get our shit together.”
The end of the meeting, with BOE members’ audio dropping out because they weren’t using microphones, made it difficult to hear all the points of view.
“Board members will still be having discussion and questions regarding agenda items, including presentations by the Superintendent,” Jannah said.
What do you think?
Will you be glad not to have BOE members commenting at the end of meetings, which in the past was often events they wanted to highlight or recognition of holidays and the like. Or, will you miss the opportunity to know where members stand on certain issues?
You can watch the last Board Comment section during the September 7 meeting (beginning around 1:48). Board member Priscilla Church talked about whether the board should consider a review of the state’s sex education standards, saying the Board had not looked at it in depth. Mfreke Inyang spoke about how public comment could be more collaborative with people asking for improvements versus being inflammatory. Phaedra Dunn echoed Inyang’s comments, calling for less angry voices and saying “we don’t have to like what is being said, but we have to listen to one another.”
Dunn also spoke about how the meetings were too long; that the time was not being utilized properly and that people who need to be heard were not coming to meetings because of the way they are structured. Jannah spoke about the passing of beloved teacher Mr. Clifford.
Tune in and watch tonight’s BOE meeting here.