WAYNE, NJ – Earlier, it was reported that Wayne Township was stepping in to “facilitate” the high school graduations for both Wayne Valley and Wayne Hills class of 2020. Mayor Chris Vergano spoke with TAPinto to provide more detail on the genesis of the event.
“I notified Dr. Toback yesterday afternoon, so that he wouldn’t be blind-sided by our announcement, and he explained to me that they are basically hand-cuffed by the Department of Education as to what they are permitted to do,” said Vergano. “This is nothing negative about the Board of Ed, we’re just stepping into their place to facilitate graduation because we are not under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education.”
Because the Township does not need to follow any guidelines set forth by the New Jersey Department of Education, they can hold the event outside their strict regulations.
“We have a big parking lot. We can separate the kids; we can do this safely. And it’s the right thing to do for the kids and our community,” he said.
The Mayor was asked if teachers and principals would be allowed to be involved with the event, but he could not answer that question, as the teachers must follow the rules of their employer, the Wayne Board of Education. His reply: “We plan on running this with parent volunteers and I’m sure it’s going to be a great event.”
Vergano was asked if the Black Lives Matter Protest held in the municipal complex parking lot motivated him to host the graduations, the Mayor said: “No. We’ve been discussing this for more than a week.”
“We’ve been getting a lot of call from parents concerned that they are going to miss out on graduation, Vergano explained. “And since the [COVID-19] numbers have been much better, not only for Wayne but for the state of New Jersey – As a matter of fact, today we have zero new cases and zero new deaths – So things are much better than they were two months ago.”
“The bottom line is, sometimes elected officials need to step up to the plate and do the right thing for the community; and this is one of those times,” he said.
TAPinto reached out to the Wayne Board of Education and the Wayne Superintendent of schools for a comment on the matter. They are holding a special meeting tonight and will provide a statement later this evening.
Eda Ferrante spoke on behalf of the Wayne Teacher’s Union: “The WEA looks forward to seeing our seniors graduate no matter what type of ceremony that may entail.”
TAPinto will update the story as more details come.