Jersey City superintendent search process

Dear Editor:

The Jersey City Board of Education appears to be using an undemocratic, and aggressively hurried process to appoint a new Superintendent of Schools and two other administrators by the end of June with hundreds of teachers still waiting to hear if they have a job in the fall.

Despite the fact that the current board is composed of multiple members who have been appointed rather than elected by the people of Jersey City, B.O.E. leadership is pressing forward to fast-track their favored candidate without regard for a fall general election of board members, or the comprehensive national search promised at the dismissal of the previous superintendent.

Throughout this school year, parent leaders and huge numbers of parents from across the city have mobilized for our schools. Hundreds of us successfully advocated—against tremendous political opposition—for a payroll tax that will help fund our schools for years to come. Many have fought (hand-in-hand with teachers) for “pink slips” to be rescinded, and for Jersey City to make amends for years of abatement deals that excluded schools from the city’s prosperity.

Yet, regarding the MOST IMPORTANT decision for our school system, we’ve been purposefully left out. A superintendent search must be a robust, public, city-wide process that engages key stakeholders. Anything less is an insult to the children the board claims to be working in service of.

From Boston to Montclair to Newark, community leaders have come together and engaged the whole community to choose a superintendent. Boston, for example, convened a large and diverse search committee composed of leaders from higher education, city government, the teachers union, special education advocates, parents from across the district, and also a student. This is the type of model we want for Jersey City.

We acknowledge that Mr. Walker, and Mrs. Ruane have support throughout the community. Therefore a thorough and open process benefits them if they are chosen. But, if they are fast-tracked to permanence, their legitimacy in the eyes of many who’ve tirelessly advocated for our schools will be tainted.

In best interests of schools, we:
• Implore city government to advocate for a transparent process that includes all stakeholders;
• Urge teachers and JCEA leadership to show us the same respect we have shown you and advocate for the inclusion of parents and due process;
• Appeal to Mr. Walker and Mrs. Ruane to join us in asking for an inclusive search process;
• Demand the Board of Education stop hiding behind this rushed and undemocratic process.

If there is one truth this year has shown us, it is that parents, community leaders, and school advocates won’t allow their voices to be silenced by the political status quo of Jersey City. We will be heard. We will rally. We will march. We will fight for what is right to ensure we have the absolute best schools for our kids and for all of us.

Angela Santiago, President and PS 3 PTA Executive Board

Cory Seminowicz President and PS 5 PTA Executive Board

Daniel Levin Vice President and McNair Academic High School Parent Student Alumni Association

Jennie Pu President, and Cordero PS 37 PTA Executive Board

Kay Minus, President, PS 17 Parent Council

Felicia Noth, Vice President, MS 4 Parent Council

Bernice Keller, Treasurer, MS 4 Parent Council

Caroline O’Reilly Doyle, MS4 Parent Council/PS 3 Parent