With the filing deadline at 4 p.m. on July 31, South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education 1st Vice President Elissa Malespina announced that she will not be running for reelection. Malespina served one three-year term on the 9-person BOE; her current term ends in January 2024.
When I decided to run for the Board of Education, I did so because I wanted to use my knowledge and expertise as a public school educator for over 20 years and my work as an education activist to help bring much-needed change to our district. As the only school librarian on a BOE in NJ and one of just a few in our nation, I am proud that this board was able to come together to write and pass some of the strongest anti-book-banning policies in the nation. These policies and subsequent regulations have become a model for other districts and are now being adopted across New Jersey and nationally.
I have decided that my time, energy, and expertise could be better spent as an advocate working with students, parents, and organizations both locally and nationally to make sure all students have access to the quality public education they deserve. I am not going anywhere and will still be very active and vocal within the community.
Our district is currently at a crossroads, and decisions will need to be made by the next board that will significantly impact the students and teachers of this district in the long term. My hope is that my fellow board members will embrace the idea that change can not happen without making some waves. The board must do what it knows is right for the students in the district and be careful about being reactive when a small group try to take over the conversation.
I would like to thank those on the board, in the public, and my family, especially my son Matthew and husband Joe, who have supported me while on the board. Being on the Board of Education can be a thankless job, but your words of encouragement and support have meant the world to me.
Note: The views expressed here are my own and are not representing the views of the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education.