WEST ORANGE, NJ — In response to what the West Orange Board of Education (WOBOE) is saying is false information that is being circulated through some social media outlets concerning its Gifted and Talented Program, the WOBOE released a statement on Thursday to the public reaffirming that the “West Orange School District Gifted and Talented Program is not new and has been in existence for decades.”  

According to Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Rutzky and board members, previous boards and administrations attempted to revise and update the program to no avail over the last several years. The WOBOE said that it is only with this current WOBOE and administration that the update for the program has come to fruition.

“The administration established a Gifted and Talented Committee inclusive of parents, teachers, supervisors, and principals to evaluate data and criteria and recommend programmatic changes,” the WOBOE said in its formal statement on Thursday. “Over this summer, teachers and Assistant Superintendent de Mendez will write the Gifted and Talented curriculum to be implemented in January 2018.”

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The board also expressed its thanks to Rutzky and de Mendez for their leadership in this regard as well as to the teachers, administrators and parents who served on the committee and provided insight and recommendations. ‎

Only after a review and presentation was conducted at the WOBOE’s June 26 meeting did a majority of the board vote to approve the recommendations of the Gifted and Talented Committee, according to the WOBOE.  

“We are confident that the extensive research performed by Assistant Superintendent de Mendez and the Gifted and Talented Committee was thorough and inclusive,” the WOBOE stated. “The board is disturbed to read false and misleading statements on social media that accuses certain West Orange Board of Education members and the administration of ‘enshrining bigotry’ and ‘racism.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. 

“The West Orange Board of Education and Administration are committed to creating an environment and programs that embrace our diversity and empower all of our students to achieve their full potential.”

According to the board, the current WOBOE has more than 50 years of collective dedicated community service to West Orange and beyond among its members. In addition to serving on the board, the members also serve as members of the New Jersey Arts Incubator, West Orange African Heritage Organization, the NAACP, the Mayor’s Disabilities Program, Parents Advocating for Special Services in Education (PASSE), UNICO, the Mountaintop League, the Police Athletic League, the West Orange Recreation Department, the West Orange Hispanic Heritage Organization, the Jamaica Organization of New Jersey, West Orange Public Relations and Human Relations Commissions, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, West Orange Men Make a Difference, as well as various New Jersey School Board Association committees. 

“For anyone to publicly challenge the board’s commitment and integrity goes beyond the pale and is simply inaccurate,” the WOBOE concluded.

In addition to Superintendent Rutzky and Assistant Superintendent de Mendez, WOBOE members include President Sandra Mordecai, Vice President Irv Schwarzbaum, Ronald Charles, Laura Lab and Mark Robertson.