WAYNE, NJ - A letter from the Wayne Education Association (WEA), addressed to Cathy Kazan, the President of the Wayne Board of Education, was leaked onto Facebook and quickly taken back down. In the letter, the teacher’s union tells Kazan: “Our general membership met and asked us to facilitate a vote of no confidence to be directed against the Board of Education. The WEA set up the vote and members overwhelmingly have endorsed this declaration of no confidence.”
When asked for a comment, WEA President, Eda Ferrante, who signed the letter, replied to TAPinto that the WEA would be making a statement during the September 10 BOE public meeting.
Kazan stated that the same letter was sent to all members of the BOE, not just her, and that she would not comment on the letter without first discussing the matter with the entire board at their next meeting.
The WEA has been very vocal about their opposition to starting school with any in-person learning, and the letter opened with these same thoughts. “The educators of the Wayne Education Association wish to declare our strongest objections to your collective and destructive decision to force children and educators back in buildings during this horrific pandemic outbreak. Your decision falls neatly in line with all the other governmental and elected officials that underestimate the strength and the unusually contagious nature of the COVID-19 Virus. The deaths of many lie at their feet.”
In the letter, they state several reasons why the BOE’s decision to have in-person schooling is “disastrous.”
“Thinking that you can expect teachers who are frightened to set foot into these buildings, to implement a new and untrained model without the needed resources and professional development is, on so many levels, educationally unsound,” wrote Ferrante in the letter.
Ferrante states that the building won’t be safe, and that most children “don’t have the ability” to stay at a safe, distance from each other or stay mask-compliant.
“So basically, what you have done is give us an impossible task under unprecedented conditions and have us going into dangerous and unhealthy buildings to do so,” Ferrante wrote.
She then told the BOE about their vote of no confidence and that a reason for the declaration was: “The members consistently cited your refusal to respond to the concerns of the town’s educators.” See story.
The letter also stated: “As a further show of our disdain at the actions and decisions of the Board dealing with the pandemic, our educators have again overwhelmingly voted to work all of their contractual hours during the course of the workday and then see to their physical, mental and emotional well-being after those hours. This will allow them to be refreshed, healthy and ready to take on the impossible task that you have thrust upon them.”
There was also a threat of possible legal action. “There are additional actions we have been directed by our membership to commence including, but certainly not limited to, exploring our options through the appropriate but unfortunately costly and time-consuming legal channels,” the letter said.
In conclusion, the letter asked the BOE not to respond but instead to reverse their “unconscionable” decision to hold in-person school.
The first day of in-person learning for Wayne public schools is Tuesday, Sep 8. The teachers have promised to work their contractual hours, so school is set to begin. Given the state’s guidelines for closing schools due to outbreak of COVID, and the increasing number of school-aged children testing positive for the virus in Wayne recently, the teacher’s union could soon get what they have been demanding for weeks.
Thursday night’s Wayne Board of Education meeting could give more answers as to what the teachers vote of no confidence ultimately means and what kind of legal actions might be taken against the BOE.