PLAINFIELD, NJ — Plainfield's Board of Education Business Meeting started off highlighting student accomplishments, and members cruised through a good portion of the agenda; but the virtual session abruptly came to a close after a personnel issue was raised.

Superintendent Dr. Diana Mitchell called out the achievements of:

  • Plainfield High School Sophomore Chelsea Young, ROTC 2nd Cadet, who has been selected to participate in the 2020 Four Star Leadership Program that offers 70 top high school students invaluable leadership experience through an exciting and challenging curriculum at no cost. Four Star Leadership with General Tommy Franks is a partnership between the General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum and Oklahoma Christian University;
  • Plainfield Senior Captain Tylik Epps, who has decided to continue his education and wrestling career at Castleton University in Vermont.

Dr. Mitchell also thanked staff and community partners who have come together to help families and students in the district, highlighting:

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  • MRA International, Inc. and President / CEO Bruno Tirone, who donated 20 HP® Chromebooks to the neediest families;
  • School nurses who came together to donate food, and to volunteer time at the food distribution site set up at duCret School of Art;
  • The Family Success Center that partnered with Moms Helping Moms Foundation to distribute over 140 diaper packets last week, and will soon host another distribution;
  • Evergreen Elementary for holding its first virtual PTO meeting.

Dr. Mitchell said the MiFis are in, and will be distributed to those families who signed up for them. She also thanked teachers who are "making magic every day" as they help students engage in virtual learning.

Members went through the agenda without much fanfare, until Dr. Avonia Richardson-Miller said she wanted to speak about an issue in an Executive Session, and called on the Board's attorney.

Phil Stern said, "There is business to discuss in Executive Session that could be discussed tonight, it could be discussed at our Work & Study meeting. That's the will of the Board."

Dr. Richardson-Miller then formally requested an Executive Session to immediately follow, noting communication from Stern that had been sent to the Board.  "The recommendation that you had to delay it was predicated on some misinformation."

At that point, Stern said, "Time out. Let's be very careful about the attorney-client privilege here."

Dr. Richardson-Miller reiterated her request for an Executive Session, and added, "I am just very appalled at the potential action that the Board is looking to take. Everyone has been working so hard through the COVID-19, and I just cannot fathom the fact that one of our highest performing employees..."

At that point, both Stern and Board President Cameron Cox cut her off.  The virtual meeting was then ended.

*Editor's Note: Chelsea Young is a sophomore; she was mistakenly identified as a senior in an earlier version of this article.

 

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