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.