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Montclair BOE Suspends Assessment Investigation

School board will step aside for New Jersey Department of Education to conduct probe.

Montclair Board of Education President Robin Kulwin Photo credit: Teresa Akersten
Montclair Board of Education President Robin Kulwin Photo credit: Teresa Akersten
The Montclair Board of Education has suspended a more than two-month investigation into how student assessments saved on a teacher portal ended up on a public website last October, The Montclair Times reported.

The board voted 4-3 in a special meeting Monday night to put their investigation on hold after learning last week that the New Jersey Department of Education plans to conduct its own probe. The resolution calls for district employees to cooperate with the state.

The DOE informed the district last week that the Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance (OFAC) will look into how 14 assessments created to align with new Common Core State Standards appeared on Gobookee.org for a brief period just days before the tests were to be administered to students.

The school board's own investigation met with a number of roadblocks.

In December, the township council voted to deny the school board access to the servers shared by the two entities.

A memo from the township manager to the council dated Dec. 29 said the township's IT Director checked for security breaches and found none. The township employee said in the memo the assessments were saved with the wrong permissions and were not "leaked."

The ACLU-NJ also blocked an effort by the board's attorney to obtain the name and contact information of an anonymous blogger who the board said could potentially know something about the potential security breach.

I'd-Rather-Be-at-63 January 14, 2014 at 09:21 AM
The cover up continues by the Montclair Board of Education. The MBoE voted in a split 4-3 vote to "suspend" the investigation, with Board members Kulwin, Rosenblum, Larsen and Mernin supporting the suspension specifically to continue hiding the truth and not having to report on the failure, money wasting and unlawfulness of the MBoE investigation. More shame on Montclair.
ira shor January 14, 2014 at 02:37 PM
'63' has it right. Exporting the ridiculous subpoena mess to a state agency, the reckless and feckless Board is "taking out the garbage." A tremendous stink engulfs the Board and Supt. because of the rushed imposition of too many unproven, unrequired assessments, followed by an indecent flurry of costly subpoenas against their most prominent online critics, after 14 tests appeared online, with NO evidence ever offered of criminal conduct in the release. The huge waste of taxes for this payback against their critics carries on the ugly example set by the Christie Administration with bridge gate. Payback and dishonesty as policies have undermined the Board's and Supt's credibility. The Board and Supt. are in deep trouble, in need of many remedial actions to re-qualify themselves as worthy to run our $118mil/year school system of 6600 students. But from the day the Board hired a new unqualified Supt. from the Christie Admin after our town voted 70% against Christie for Gov, this Board permanently disqualified itself as representing the families of Montclair. For the good of our kids and to rescue our good schools, our property values, and our town respect for difference of opinion, this Board should immediately resign or be removed from office for abuse of power and for fiscal malfeasance.
I'd-Rather-Be-at-63 January 14, 2014 at 02:56 PM
ira shor You are right. But it goes much deeper. The launch of a new investigation by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) is a dream outcome for the Montclair Board of Education (MBoE) and the worse possible outcome for the town and its children. The town's people have now been even further distanced from the "investigation" (which some of us knew as a sham from day 1 and nothing changes on that score). Worse it also provides the NJDOE and opportunity to come in and snoop around inside Montclair's schools and say how things should be run. The MBoE sees its power base not with those who pay for the schools or send their children there, the townspeople, but with Trenton and Washington (thus, Ms. Kulwin's visit to Washington, at taxpayer expense, on the day prior to launching this witch hunt. If MCAS wants things to change it needs to wake up and stop showing sympathy and support to people who break the law. This "suspension" only means the MBoE continues to break the law, just as it does every time it goes into "executive session" at what should be public meetings where the law requires the business of the MBoE to be discussed in public. MCAS needs to stop telling people to go to meetings that are run by lawless people and stop trying to engage unqualified and dishonest people in an intellectual discussion on education. Not a single MBoE member has ever spoken out against this fear investigation. Not a single one has ever shown any concern for the people who had their rights violated by them and incurred large legal costs. And, of course, not a single one has ever or will ever apologize. The MBoE's behavior is really the worse example a town could hold up for civility for its children regarding good citizenship.
esther January 22, 2014 at 05:10 PM
You three are all correct. The witch hunt is over. There was never any breach. And the board and Mac knew it all the time. The board has now put the future of MPS into the hands of Christie, Cerf, and the Broad Scholar lovers over in Trenton. This board is out of control and the taxpayers are quickly giving away its power base. How about an apology from the board to the TOWN and the TEACHERS? Accusations with no basis. How does one person come to town allegedly to save us from ourselves- change everything in a district from assessments, to grading, to the face of the central office (now renamed), including parent conferences to administration in schools and at central office, to the BOE meetings now operating with impunity and no public output, all with no certification but the backing of Mr. Cerf and company? DISGUSTING. Where are the improvements? Where are the new computers? Classrooms are still overcrowded. And the mayor is complicit because he appointed these losers.

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