Help Us Fight for Equity

 Black Parents Workshop v. South Orange-Maplewood (NJ) School District 


  • The Black Parents Workshop, Inc. filed a federal lawsuit  (Docket 2:18-CV-02726) on February 27, 2018 in U.S. District Court in the District of New Jersey in Newark on behalf of four plaintiffs’ families against the South Orange-Maplewood (New Jersey) School District alleging violations of federal and state laws. The lawsuit is based on a pattern of policies and practices that have discriminated against African-American students. 
  • We have taken this action due to the repeated failure of the South Orange-Maplewood School District to cease these practices, and for its failure to comply in principle and in substance with the provisions of a U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights Resolution Agreement (OCR Docket No. 02-13-5003) the district voluntarily signed in October 2014. In addition, the South Orange-Maplewood School District has maintained and supported a de facto segregated system of K-5 elementary schools, while segregating students by race in Columbia High School due to the tracking of students and their placement in ‘levels’ that have produced gross racial disparities in academic achievement.

Read the New York Times article "A Suburb Believed in Liberal Ideas. Then Came a New Busing Plan" that chronicles the fight for education equity in South Orange-Maplewood, New Jersey and the efforts of the Black Parents Workshop, Inc. in this struggle to support Black students.

BPW_Press Release_Lawsuit__February 27, 2018 (pdf)


Complaint_FINAL_Part 1 (pdf)


Complaint_FINAL_Part 2 (pdf)


First Amended Complaint Part 1 (pdf)


First Amended Complaint Part 2 (pdf)


Exhibits_FINAL_Part 1 (pdf)


Exhibits_FINAL_Part 2 (pdf)


Exhibits_FINAL_Part 3 (pdf)


Exhibits_FINAL_Part 4 (pdf)


Exhibits_FINAL_Part 5 (pdf)


Exhibits_FINAL_Part 6 (pdf)


Exhibits_FINAL_Part 7 (pdf)


Letter to Assistant Commissioner of Education Kellie LeDet_February 28_2018 (pdf)


Letter to Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (pdf)


Black Parents Workshop v. South Orange-Maplewood School District

NJTV - March 2, 2018

Black Parents Workshop v. South Orange Maplewood School District.

February 27, 2018 Announcement

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About Us

Breaking News

"Black Parents Sue Maplewood Schools Alleging Segregated Classrooms"_WNYC Radio NYC

"Parents Group Sues District Over Alleged Discrimination"_NJTV

"NJ district is segregating black students, suit says"_Star-Ledger

"Suit Charges South Orange-Maplewood with Continued Discrimination, Seeks $12M to Fix 'De Facto Segregation' "_Village Green

"BPW to file lawsuit against school district over racial disparities"_News Record

"Non-profit suing South Orange-Maplewood School District for not correcting racial disparity" Fios1 News

"We should all be ashamed: School struggles to close racial achievement gap"_Star-Ledger

"Two schools with similar demographics., yet different outcomes"_The Washington Post

"Fields: SOMSD Has Trampled Upon the Rights of Black Children"_Village Green

"VIDEO: SOMA Black Parents Workshop Holds Student-Led Candidates Forum"_Village Green

"South Orange-Maplewood BOE Has Had Enough Time to Address Racial Inequities" - James Davis_Village Green

"Fields: South Orange-Maplewood BOE's Moral Compass is Broken"_Village Green

"Amos brings "Halley's Comet" to SOMA_News Record

"Maplewood seeks to replace top cop over controversial arrests"_Star-Ledger

"Maplewood TC Calls for Cimino's Resignation, Places Him on Leave as Protesters Take Over National Night Out"_Village Green

"Letter: Black Parents Group Urges Maplewood to Remove Police Chief"_Village Green

"Letter: Community Leaders Must Not Be Silent in the Wake of July 5 Incidents_Village Green"

"July 5, 2016 Maplewood Police Audio Tapes: Get 'em Down Elmwood!"_Village Green

"Maplewood Chief Showed July 5 Police Tapes to Select Community Members While Public Waits for Release" Village Green

"Maplewood TC votes 5-0 to Release July 5, 2016 Police Tapes"_Village Green

"Opinion: Release the Maplewood Police Tapes; What Is There To Hide"_Village Green

"Local Black Parents Group Demands Maplewood Release Recordings of July 5 Incident"_Village Green

"Police videos from fatal shootings are public record, NJ Supreme Court rules"_The Star-Ledger

"One Year Later: Protest Calls for Release of Police Tapes from 2016 Fireworks Incident"_ The Village Green

"Opinion: Maplewood Police Should Release Police Video, Audio Recordings of July 5 Incident"_The Village Green

"Mayor: July 5 Police Recordings Can't Be Released Until Probe Ends in September, Leaders Have Deep Concerns_The Village Green

"Seth Boyden Parent Asks "Where is the Blood Lead Testing?"_Joe Strupp Blogspot

"BOE approves new executive director of special services, youth development"_Essex News Daily

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Mission Statement

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Black Children Matter!


The plight of Black children in our school district

For over two decades, Black children in the South Orange-Maplewood (NJ) School District have been treated as second-class citizens. They have been discriminated against in their assignment to special education, their disproportionate suspensions and expulsions, and their being tracked into lower level academic courses. Our fight is in ending the rampant structural racism in our public schools and to demand that Black children receive the education to which they are legally entitled. We will use every tool at our disposal – advocacy, protest, civil disobedience and litigation – to hold the school district accountable.

Six decades after Brown v. Board of Education, New Jersey schools are still segregated



Dr. John Ramos has tendered his resignation as the Superintendent of the South Orange-Maplewood School District. Read the story in the Village Green.

We are pleased to announce that the Black Parents Workshop is now a member of the national Dignity in Schools Campaign. 


Who is responsible for school district policy?

The elected Board of Education is responsible for approving school district policy and the oversight of district administrators. Members to the Board serve staggered terms and school board elections are held in November.

What is the role of the district superintendent? 

The district superintendent is an employee of the school district, its executive administrator who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the school district. The superintendent reports to the Board of Education.


Does having Black administrators and Board members matter?

Not as much as one would think. We believe in holding all adults in positions of public leadership in our school district accountable.

Can I attend Board of Education meetings? 

Absolutely and we strongly encourage you to do so. These are your tax dollars being used to support public education in our community. The Board of Education is answerable to you. At every Board meeting the public has a right to express its concerns to the Board during a period of the meeting designated as “Public Speaks.” You must sign-up before the meeting begins. A sign-up sheet is made available. You have two (2) minutes to address the Board on any subject concerning our schools that you deem important. If your comments exceed two minutes, individuals who have signed up to speak can cede their time to you. The Board does not respond to public presentations but your comments go on the record. We encourage you to write your comments and submit a copy to the Board secretary at the dais after your presentation.


Can my child take any available course?

Under school district policy (Policy 2314 – Academic Placement) it is the right of the student and parent to decide in which courses to enroll. While guidance counselors and teachers can “recommend” placement, they cannot obstruct placement. This is particularly important for courses offered in Columbia High School where Black students have traditionally been excluded from advanced level and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.    

Has the district endorsed equity as policy? 

On paper, yes. The new Policy 5755.1 Access and Equity states that the district is wholly committed to access and equity. The policy calls for the demographics of course enrollment to reflect the demographics of each school. Still, the district has not committed the necessary funds to make certain this policy will achieve its intended goal. We remain skeptical of the district’s efforts.


Do academic levels still exist in the grade/curriculum structure? 

Yes, and we oppose leveling. While many school districts employ leveling or “ability grouping,” the practices of the South Orange Maplewood School District have been egregious. This is an area that is indefensible given the research on academic placement and the history of the district. We are currently exploring legal options to terminate this practice.  

Is the school district integrated? 

Only on paper. The South Orange Maplewood School District maintains de facto segregation in its classes in Columbia High School and the enrollment of elementary school students.  

Do parents have legal recourse if their child is subject to discriminatory treatment?

Absolutely and we are strong proponents of seeking redress in the courts. We are particularly concerned about the treatment of Black special education students, teacher bias, unfair disciplinary measures and the degree to which Black students are denied access to advanced level and Advanced Placement courses in Columbia High School.

What should I do if I detect that my child has been subject to bias or discrimination in his or her school? 

First, communicate your concerns in writing to the school principal and copy (cc) the school district superintendent. We advise you to never have “off the record” conversations concerning your child with a school administrator or teacher. Request a meeting. You may also request the participation of another adult if you feel uncomfortable in meeting alone. We are available to assist you.

How should I communicate my concerns to my child’s school? 

We recommend that all communications with teachers and administrators be in writing, and you should request a written response to your inquiry. Keep all copies of your correspondence (e.g. letters, email, fax) and catalog (e.g. date, time, who you spoke to, substance of conversation) all telephone conversations. This is critical if the resolution of your complaint requires legal action.     


No upcoming events.

Board of Education Contacts


South Orange Maplewood Board of Education

Contact the members of the South Orange Maplewood Board of Education

Susie Adamson

Elizabeth Baker

Robin Baker

Anthony Mazzocchi

Annemarie Maini

Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad

Javier Farfan 

Shannon Cuttle  

Johanna Wright

Hannah Silver (Student Representative) 

School District Superintendent

Contact the School District Superintendent

Dr. Ronald G. Taylor

(973) 762-5600 ext. 1820

Board of Education Headquarters

525 Academy Street
Maplewood, NJ 07040

(973) 762-5600

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Contact Us

Drop us a line!

Please contact us

Please contact us if you suspect that your child has faced bias or discriminatory treatment.

Black Parents Workshop

P.O. Box 762 Maplewood, New Jersey 07040

(201) 259-8375


Please contact us Monday-Friday or leave a message on our voicemail during the weekend.