Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A Question of Ethics and Stability


First there are some questions pertaining to this after school program. 

I would like to know; 
  • What are the costs per child? 
  • Will the superintendent/board be provided proof of background checks? 
  • Will the people working in the after school program have experience with a Title I district that resembles the cultural and economic diversity of Englewood? 
  • Will you look to hire people from Englewood who are familiar with the strengths and challenges of our children? 
  • What is the staff turnover rate?


As elected officials you take an oath to abide by a Code of Ethics which is dictated by New Jersey law. I am very disturbed by the actions initiated by board members over the course of the past year. These actions clearly indicate that school board members 
don’t know, 
don’t understand, 
don’t care about following the Code of Ethics or about the best interests of our school district.

Everything from questionable 

relationships, to threats of
Too many substitutes in our
classrooms everyday.
potential violence toward community members, to most recently Ms. Lerner and Ms. Schwartz’ emails. 

I find it very concerning that Ms. Lerner chose to empathize with Mr. Berrios and chastise Mr. Rodriques. There is never a justifiable reason for an elected official to shout obscenities or threaten 
community members in front of their children. 

And to 
condemn Mr Rodriques for taking 
a stand and holding the board to
Not enough Student
to nurture our 
children, or yours
task by asking that they abide by the oath that they took and the NJ Code of Ethics for School Board Members clearly indicates that you are not concerned about being the best board member, you can be. 

Laws/guidelines/codes are created for a reason and the blatant disregard for these laws/guidelines/codes is disrespectful not only to our community and children but to yourselves.
Ms. Schwartz’ email to the board is also indicative of the mass confusion about the roles and responsibilities of board members. Posts on people’s personal FB pages are not the business of the board and while some may find issue with Mr. Whilby's posts, the constitution of the United States protects his freedom of speech. So, I am very curious to know, Ms. 

Schwartz, why were you on Mr. Whilby’s FB page and why do you feel what he posts is considered BOE business? Some might consider that stalking.
Enough is enough. If you are not going to follow the law on policies and Code of Ethics, which is 18A for reference, and not attend trainings to improve your skill set and knowledge as board members, if
 you are going to stalk and threaten community members 

(and for the record, Mr Berrios is not the only board member to have confronted a community , member-video to come) 

then please, for the sake of our children and our community step down. We will appreciate and respect you for acknowledging that maybe this isn’t the best role for you

Amy Jones Bulluck

Friday, May 10, 2019

Is Englewood Disenfranchising Her Children?

I’m hearing a lot about the brawl having racial undertones behind it and the punishment that the CHILDREN should be and are facing. What I am not hearing is what role the district management (or lack there of) or the community has played in bringing this incident to fruition. 

What has the district done to help children value each others differences? 
What role has the district played in creating such an atmosphere? Yes fights happen, but what is being done to prevent them?

Are Englewood are teachers required to have any type of diversity training? Are they trained on how to promote equity & diversity in the classroom? 

Many employers are now requiring employees to attend diversity training. They actually have employees for the very purpose of promoting the concept of valuing diversity in the work environment. Do we?

The next question is how is equity and diversity promoted in the classroom? 
  • Are children given any guidance in valuing those who are different? 
  • Are we teaching them how to appreciate their differences? 
  • Are we teaching them how to identify commonalities? 
  • How to show empathy? 
  • How to negotiate through difficult situations? 
  • How to agree to disagree?
My guess is the answers to theses questions are NOT! Why? Because we as a city are not exhibiting these behaviors and values. Everything in this damn city is a public fight. Hill vs valley, Black vs Jew, rich vs poor, resident vs non-resident, Hispanic vs white Hispanic, and on and on and on. And as evidenced by the April 11, 2019 some are resorting to vigilantism (I’ll share more about my thoughts on that in another post).
So really Englewood, what example are we setting for the children? What is the educational system doing to teach children to do and be better? Is the fight really the children’s fault or is it our fault for not equipping them with the tools they need to successfully navigate through a disagreement? This incident tells me that our children are frustrated. 

They are telling us to do our jobs as adults, community members, city leaders, district leaders.

They are telling us they want to be heard. 

They are crying out for help. 

They are testing us and so far we are failing­čśô

Amy Jones Bulluck

Conduct Unbecoming.....!

By now most of you have seen the video of the April 11 Board of
Education meeting showing the School Board member, Mr Berrios, confronting a community member. There have been calls for him to step down and quite honestly I think he should. Let’s think about the impact that his refusal to step down will have on the community and how he may have done so and maintained some level of respect from the community.

To be fair let’s review the reason, Mr Berrios, stayed is source of contention.

First, he clearly accuses a community member of threatening his 12 yr old daughter prior to the meeting. The community member did not make any statements containing Mr. Berrios’ name or reference his daughter at the meeting. While in my opinion, the community member did not threaten his daughter, as a parent, I am not going to judge his perception.

I, at the same meeting, had a woman, whom I do not know, scream erratically at me because my child is in the charter school. Not knowing this woman obviously gave me cause for concern that she knows my child was in a charter school. Now, I have not kept it a secret that my kid attends EPCS, but for someone I don’t know to be actively monitoring what I do with my child is concerning. So I get it.

But let’s be honest, if a parent really feels their child is in danger or has been threatened, wouldn’t a reasonable, mature, adult contact the authorities (police) immediately? As least that’s what I did right after the meeting. I Filed a police report. So I have to wonder,  why didn’t Mr. Berrios contact the authorities? Why did he opt to confront the community member days after the alleged threat?

Now let’s fast forward to the meeting on May 1. The Board President offers an apology on behalf of the Board. Mr Berrios, offers an apology, with a justification, and a reference to the fact that he continued on with his normal routine (coordinating his science team and coaching baseball). First of all, an apology with a justification indicates to me that he is not really apologetic for his actions. He still feels his actions were justified, but he is sorry if he offended us. Why is this important? It tells us that he feels there is justification for threatening physical violence, which likely indicates that he either has done this before, or will do it again, or both.

His refusal to step down also gives us an indication of how he really feels about his role as a school   Instead of the community being able to focus on what can enhance our district, we are now trying to figure out how to protect our children from those we elected to serve them.
board member. It’s about him and not the children. One would hope that as a school board member the children would be what is most important. His blatant disregard for the children on April 11 continued into the meeting on May 1. His behavior caused him to lose the confidence of the community.  Quite frankly, I don’t appreciate him using the children to try and prove a point. Our kids are the point.

At this point, what chance there was of Mr. Berrios maintaining any semblance of dignity or respect the community has been lost. Had Mr, Berrios truly been sorry and really considered the children to be most important his response would have gone something like;
"As a school board member and an elected official, I am held to a higher standard on the night of April 11, I failed to meet that standard. The community placed not only their trust but the education of their children in my hands and I have failed them. For this I offer my sincerest apologies to all. My actions prevented the school board from conducting necessary business to keep our schools functioning. My actions redirected the focus away from the children which contradicts my whole purpose for being a board member. While I offer no excuses for my behavior the events over that last few weeks culminating in my irresponsible behavior has taught me that, while my intentions are to help children, being a school board member, an elected public position, may not be the best way for me to accomplish my intentions. It is apparent that I do not have the temperament or disposition to tolerate being an elected official. I thank the people who supported me. I am sorry that I let you down. I am officially stepping down from my position as a member of the Englewood Board of Education. I will look to understand more about myself and how I may be able to drive positive change for our children.
How might you have felt differently about Mr. Berrios if he had offered an apology such as this? We all make mistakes but "you got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away and know when to run." This, Mr Berrios, was a time to fold ‘em and walk away.

Amy Jones Bulluck

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Are You Tired of Being Dismissed?

The events of this week have clearly shown us two things.
1. People are tired of being blatantly dismissed. People are feeling disengaged, disempowered, and ignored. 

2. There are elected officials who have personal agendas and what the residents want is not important to them. They have shown to have an alliance with individuals versus the community.

So what do we do about it? How do we get people engaged and ensure that ALL of our elected officials are held accountable?
First, you must start attending meetings. BOE, Council, Planning Board, Board of Adjustment, etc... This is how you know what is being planned for your community. Of course we understand that it is extremely difficult to attend all these meetings because, after all, we have this thing called life, however we must start to work together. I am sure each one of us has at least 4 friends. Each person take a meeting and report back to the others.

Make sure you are informed on who your respective council person is so that based on the reports you can email your councilperson with your thoughts.

Secondly, we must educate ourselves about the candidates running for various positions. We obviously cannot afford to blindly elect people just because they are in the first column or just because they are our neighbor, or just because. We cannot afford to re-elect people simply because they are the incumbent. Having the position today does not mean you will be the best person for the job tomorrow. Know your candidates.
Now, knowing your candidate does not mean you may not end up supporting the “wrong” candidate. I am guilty of this. The person I supported turned out to be all the way wrong!! It’s okay though. Lesson learned. I certainly won’t vote for them next time.
Thirdly, thing we absolutely must do is actually vote. This is where our power lies. We literally have the power to hire and fire by pushing a button. 
We have several officials up for re-election this year
Ward 2 Michael Cohen
Ward 4. Wayne Hamer
Board of Ed (should they chose to run)
Think about what these candidates have done for you during the last three years? 
  • What changes have they supported in our city? 
  • What impact have they made? If you don’t know you have every right to reach out to them and ask. They are applying for a job and you are the hiring manager. How else would you know who is the best candidate without interviewing them?
Now, are you ready for change? Are you ready to make a difference? Are you ready to take back the power that rightfully belongs to you? You should be. It’s your life that’s being impacted. 
It’s your child’s life being affected.
If you’re not ready, why not? 
What will it take for you to get ready? 
How can we help?

Amy Jones Bulluck

Friday, May 3, 2019

A Cry In The Wilderness?

And how are the children...….?
Captured here is 57 Seconds of "disorderly conduct" at DMHS in Englewood, NJ.    The video below was posted to Instagram minutes after the melee broke out. Within minutes, the children made this go viral to neighboring towns. I see the posting of this video from what I presume is a student as a cry for help. Are we going to help or are we going to condemn the people who understand the message?

I have published here the opinion of a father and grandfather who  knows it is crucially important for parents to understand the severity of the situations when students are not held accountable with the full force of the District policy/law. This law should be clearly outlined in the Student Handbook for Englewood Public School Students. Professor Kelly worked for 30 years in a School District that has a School Resource Officer and an Attendance Officer. I also worked in a School District nearly 30 years that has these student support programs and more in place. Englewood does not have these and other support positions in place even though they are mandated by NJ law.
             On the subject of the above "57 Second" video

"I must push back on one aspect of this video, as well as commend the posting of the video. 

1. Pushback: yes, the students should receive consequences for their very disturbing display of violence; however, the underlying causes of the violence are being overlooked. 

Paraphrasing MLK: “Violence [rioting] is the language of the unheard.” The violence is a symptom of the climate in the schools. Yes, schools. There are fights occurring in other schools in the city. Parents and stakeholders must begin asking those who’ve been entrusted w/ the children, WHY?

Do ALL of the children feel supported, respected, motivated, uplifted, and “heard”? If yes, then there should not be the intense violence as displayed on the video. If no, WHY?

Parents, do you know whether the schools that are charged with educating and protecting your children are fully staffed with certified, competent and dedicated teachers, administrators and support staff? Support staff like School Resource Officers Attendance Officers, Psychologists (optimally) or Social Workers (minimally) are mandated by NJ state Law. Are they present in the schools? Have you asked?

2. Posted video: I’ve read several parents’ reactions expressing not knowing there was such discord and dysfunction in the schools. Why? Because it’s bad PR! Without this very graphic display, it would be very easy to down play the exigency of the situation. It’s very problematic to “don’t believe your lying eyes”! Only showing it to parents and not the broader spectrum of all stakeholders weakens the impact of the potential dangers suggested in our schools.

Don’t be lulled into believing that everything is milk & honey. It’s not. Fluff, feel-good articles crowing about the gains in the schools are just that, FLUFF. 

The power is in your hands now (make phone calls, regularly attend Board of Education & City Council meetings (w/ your concerns and demand answers) and in the future (your vote for those who will walk the walk they “talk” when they campaign)!"


Thom Kelly, Ph. D
NBC Coverage https://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Brawl-Breaks-Out-at-New-Jersey-High-School_New-York-509459941.html ATTENTION PARENTS: If your children are fighting in school they are breaking the law. Fighting in school is "disorderly conduct". It is a misdemeanor and it applies to everyone, even School Board Members. Read below. NJ Statute: 2C:33-2. Disorderly conduct.
a. Improper behavior. A person is guilty of a petty disorderly persons offense, if with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof he
(1) Engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior; or
(2) Creates a hazardous or physically dangerous condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.
b. Offensive language. A person is guilty of a petty disorderly persons offense if, in a public place, and with purpose to offend the sensibilities of a hearer or in reckless disregard of the probability of so doing, he addresses unreasonably loud and offensively coarse or abusive language, given the circumstances of the person present and the setting of the utterance, to any person present.
“Public” means affecting or likely to affect persons in a place to which the public or a substantial group has access; among the places included are highways, transport facilities, schools, prisons, apartment houses, places of business or amusement, or any neighborhood.
L.1978, c. 95, s. 2C:33-2, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.