WAYNE, NJ - During Thursday evening’s Wayne Board of Education meeting, the topic of the Wayne high school graduations was discussed. Some members of the BOE shared their frustration at the treatment they were receiving by the community on Facebook, and the possibility of changing the dates of the official Wayne Public Schools graduations was talked about.
“We are in a state of disarray at this moment when it comes to recognizing our seniors,” said Dr. Mark Toback, the Superintendent of Wayne schools. He was referring to the competing graduation events that are scheduled for the class of 2020. This week Mayor Chris Vergano announced that the Township would be stepping in and hosting the high school graduations next week. The Wayne BOE was surprised by this announcement as they have their own graduation events planned for July 30.
Toback read a statement during the meeting: “The Board of Education respects any effort to help the community through a difficult situation in an unprecedented time and wants the best for our students.” He went on to explain that the township-hosted event is difficult in that no employee of the school district, teachers or principals would be allowed to participate in the event because it would put the BOE in conflict with the State Department of Education and risk state aid to the schools.
In discussing the topic, the BOE members decided that, for now, they would keep the date of July 30 for their graduation ceremony but there was a discussion of the event possibly changing in the future, depending on the Governor’s decisions.
On Facebook, the Wayne community was divided with many saying that the Mayor was doing the right thing and others saying that he was over-stepping his authority. The vitriol on display on the social networking platforms had BOE member Stacy Scher close to tears as she defended her desire to do right by the graduating class.
“I cannot take my heart out of it, as I have a graduating senior,” she said. “What I do need the public to know is, the commenting. The obnoxious, meaningless remarks that are being made about the administration and the Board of Ed is very…” she stopped, her emotions were choking her up and could be heard in her voice. “I have been fighting since day one to have my child walk across the stage along with all of his friends. And, the fact that parents would think that we do not care about these kids is so hurtful.”
“These teachers, who have stepped up and done everything they needed to,” continued Scher. “And these teachers deserve the right to go and say goodbye to their children. Because these are their children too.”
“Unfortunately, the Mayor did not involve us with his plans,” she said. “And, I wish that we had worked together.” Scher suggested that the BOE shared-services committee meets with the Mayor and see if they could come together. “If everyone truly, truly believes that this is about the seniors and not about them, then let the school system do their job. And the school system’s job is to graduate their class.”
BOE President ended the discussion by saying: “I hate Facebook. It’s not a way to communicate with the Board. You elected us to serve you; to protect and educate your children, and we take that very seriously.”
It was briefly discussed rescheduling the virtual graduation planned for June 18, and the BOE decided that Dr. Toback would talk with the principals of the two high schools as to when the virtual graduation would take place. As of this writing, no decision was posted on the Wayne Schools website.