Editor's Note: The author of this post originally wrote this letter in response to a social media post. We have secured his permission to post it on TAPintoBarnegat/Waretown with some slight editorial changes so that more readers may access it.  Although Michael Hickey is President of the Board of Education, his letter is not written in that capacity. Instead, he writes as a parent and citizen.

To the Editor:

This is from me, as Mike, a loving parent and citizen of Barnegat.

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Just to be clear, in my opinion, the people who voted against reconfiguration DO NOT have your children's best interests at heart. They just do not have the moral courage or integrity to stand up to the scrutiny and ridicule from some of the people in a particular so Facebook group.

Those who voted against grade banding are willing to raise taxes and send the message to the staff that they do not trust their recommendations or support them on their mission to provide the BEST possible education to our children. All to avoid the discomfort of public ridicule...

Leadership and governance are not a popularity contest. As a matter of fact, throughout my life, I have found that the best decisions often put the decision makers in a position to be ridiculed and criticized. If have I to be that person, I will be.

Let me take it even a step further...

If someone posted a meme of you as an elephant doing vulgar things, would that help you be empathetic to the position of those people who are working so diligently to destroy your hard-earned reputation? What if someone showed that meme your kids?

What about dragging out someone's personal pain and criticizing their decisions in front of strangers during the most difficult time of their life because you were upset that they called you out on your behavior in a public forum?

We all know the referenced social media page is uncensored... but that does not mean because you can, you should...

And, I can't sit back and watch you try to destroy good people's reputations with your insults and rumors.

So, If I need to be the target to take the heat off those who wish to support grade banding, then let it be me. Make it about me, if you need to destroy or martyr someone. My family and friends are ready to stand behind me no matter what happens.

My goal has never been re-election. My mission has always been to provide the best possible Education for our children in the most fiscally responsible way. This position is a volunteer position. It's just another way for me to serve my nation and my community. I never needed it to make me feel powerful or feed my ego.

So, I will say loudly and clearly...

I fully support Dr. Latwis and absolutely believe in his approach and leadership.

I fully support the unanimous recommendation of the administrative team and their years of education and experience.

I fully support the staff in the execution of their mission to provide the best possible education experience to our students.

I fully support grade banding because it is the best decision for our current students and all of our future students.

Grade-banding provides our district with all the needs requested by the administrative team and does it in a way that minimizes taxes.

There is no hidden agenda.

No conspiracy.

I am here in the real world dealing with facts...

Redistricting a real expensive way for the district to get half of what it needs.

Voting NO for grade banding means you support tax hikes and half solutions for our kids. As a leader, voting NO means you do not support the staff and administrative.

That's it.

Respectfully yours,

Michael Hickey