When Montclair's teachers union president could not finish her prepared statement Monday night, the public did so for her.
Copies of Montclair Education Association President Gayl Shepard's remarks were distributed to the dozens of teachers, parents and community members seated in the Montclair High School auditorium after Shepard was limited to talking for three-minutes due to a newly imposed change in the meeting agenda.
Read Shepard's complete remarks. (Right click to open in a new window and read along)
"The most discouraging aspect about the Board’s decision to remove the MEA from the Public Meeting Agenda, is that it is yet another attack on the longstanding culture of our town that celebrates collaboration," Shepard said.After Shepard was cut short, a parent at the podium picked up where she left off with dozens of members of the public, including Shepard, joining in to read the remarks in unison.
The action was followed by applause and cheers from members of the teachers union that, according to Shepard, represents 92% of the district's employees.
The BOE meeting began with Board President Robin Kulwin announcing the MEA would no longer be listed on the agenda as it has been in recent history.
Kulwin said the union president would be required to speak during portions of the meeting set aside for the public to comment on agenda and non-agenda items, and that her remarks, along with others, would be limited to three minutes.
The change outraged teachers, dozens of which attended the meeting wearing their blue MEA t-shirts in a show of solidarity.
Board member Shelly Lombard said the MEA has been listed on the agenda "as a courtesy, not as a requirement."
"I did strongly push to streamline the agenda," she said. "I apologize if it's unpopular."
Board member David Cummings said he disapproved of the move predicting it would be a "public relations nightmare" for the district.
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