Friday, January 20, 2012

Background Check Confusion: Are You Confused About Running A School District?

January 19, 2012. Englewood School Board Meeting. Anyone expecting excitement or fireworks after earlier events concerning the Board of Education President and 1 other board member was disappointed. It did not happen. After the Board returned from their usual long closed session meeting, it was business as usual. George Garrison III apologized for any embarrassment caused by his name being listed along with others who were removed from NJ school boards for failure to comply with the background check registration law. Point of reference, this is not a new law, it is just new to board members.

The first time I Googled George Garrison III, the search led me to a site called E3 (Excellent Education For Everyone). The CEO of this site is now Christy Davis Jackson, the wife of the Reverend Reginald Jackson.  Reverend Jackson and his entire Charter School Board (10 members) were removed for not registering for the criminal background check. This was a surprise too me since I had just read an article in New Jersey Monthly magazine that refers to Reverend Jackson as the most influential African-American in New Jersey. I must  lead a sheltered life, because I had never heard of the man before. I was just following the crumbs left by supporters of "The Urban Hope Act". The search of the CEO of E3 left me cold, because of problems associated with a scandal at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ. {December of 2005, Mrs. Jackson, a lawyer, lobbyist, and UMDNJ's vice president for government affairs, resigned from her $156,000 job. While records related to her office also have been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, she said that had nothing to do with her decision to leave.} I'm not mad at you Mrs. Jackson. I would not want a younger, slimmer more determined US Attorney Chris Christie on my tail either.

After reading the proposed bill for "The Urban Hope Act", I wanted to know who supported it and why. It is now Law for Jersey City and Camden. Newark has declined this honor. They have objected to being included in the districts covered under this bill. With the help of the Education Law Center they are charting a different course by asking the N.J. legislators to investigate delays in repair work in urban schools.  Way to go Newark, and good luck.

After the list of board members who were not in compliance with the new law was released it became problematic to those of us who accept the importance of such "small" things. How are we supposed to trust the very future of our children to people who cannot or will not obey the Law? The prevailing excuse was that the process was too confusing. If that process was confusing, how will you run an entire school district? How will you educate the children of parents who have fled the public schools in hopes of something better? How do you earn our trust now that it is betrayed? We no  longer have confidence in your ability to make important decisions. Yikes!!!

Published: Friday, January 13, 2012, 7:20 PM     Updated: Saturday, January 14, 2012, 3:03 PM             
The deadline extension is also good news for the Arete Academy Charter School of Orange, whose entire 10-member board was ruled ineligible for failure to complete their fingerprinting by Dec. 31. Founded by the Rev. Reginald Jackson, the influential head of the Black Ministers Council, the new charter school for kindergarten and first graders is scheduled to open this fall. "This is a new law and we are a new school," Jackson said. "I don’t blame anybody, but there has been some confusion, especially because our school is not open yet."
Nice Try Rev, but no cigar. People are putting the entire future of their most precious creations in your hands. You are duty bound to wade through the confusion. Every single board member that failed to register in a timely manner should have gotten exactly what they got and more. EMBARRASSMENT! 
George Garrison III, Mark DeMontagnac, do not take lightly the lives and education of our children. Don't FRONT. You have children in the district. If you were out here instead of seated around that long table wielding the power, you would feel the same as we do. For years, teachers and all other school personnel have submitted to fingerprinting & background checks.  It is your turn now. You are lucky that you had the willing ear of enough politicians who do not see the forest for the trees to back you up. Stop whimpering and minimizing the importance of the process. Clean up your Acts. You have just proven that is exactly what you are doing. ACTING!

                                           How are the children?

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