I will not respond to the SOMA Justice and PARES questionnaire for three primary reasons:
1) The evaluation process lacks transparency. The only legitimate evaluators of candidates for the Board of Education are the taxpayers/voters of South Orange and Maplewood. I believe voters should have the opportunity to review all questions and the full answers provided by candidates on any questionnaire, and the decision of who to support should reside with voters.
2) SOMA Justice and PARES are demonstrating a clear bias in their presentation of survey results.
3) Let’s look at a report card on the Report Card. SOMA Justice and PARES have repeatedly endorsed candidates who have failed our students.
They endorsed candidates who:
- Voted to eliminate librarians in our middle and high schools.
- Voted for the new Public Speaks policy which limits what you can say at BOE meetings.
- Compromised our Special Education program via the use of outsourced paraprofessionals, saddling the district with lawsuits we continue to litigate.
- Brought in a law firm to provide counsel to maintain segregation in our schools (docket # L-7026-91). It is now the same law firm which counsels the Board to go against the State’s decision on ethics and suspension.
The votes are a matter of public record and are all available online.
If SOMA Justice and PARES wish to endorse a candidate(s), it is within their right, and they should do so—with complete transparency. In my opinion, the questionnaire’s true purpose is to create the perception of an objective process, when it is not. It suffers from the same lack of transparency for which I have long criticized the Board.
For over 30 years, I have demonstrated my commitment to the students of our school district as a teacher, coach, resident, and now, as a board member. I will not permit my record to be rewritten by people who do not even live in our community and have no context of the issues that I have been fighting for long before SOMA Justice and PARES existed, much less their Report Card. I look forward to communicating directly with residents and others on making the case for my re-election.
I would rather the people of this community grade me on election day.