South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education Candidates Profiles: Elissa Malespina

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Six candidates will run for election to the 9-member South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education on November 3, 2020. Five people are vying for three full-term (3-year) open seats, while one incumbent is running to complete the remainder of a term. Village Green is posting candidate profiles for each candidate who submits. Below is Elissa Malespina’s candidate statement; she is running on the “Choice for Change” platform. Read Village Green’s Election Guidelines here.

Elissa Malespina

I am running for the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education to ensure that our district starts to rebuild in ways that live up to its promise of real integration and equity so that all students have the best opportunity to reach for the stars.

As a public school educator and staunch advocate for effective public education, I bring a lot to the table. As a parent and former teacher in our district, I had a front-row seat to inherent inequities in our district, especially around the treatment of students of color and students with special needs. My record on advocacy is well documented on the issue and has led to substantial changes beginning to be implemented in the district. I will continue this advocacy if elected and will do everything in my power as a BOE member to make sure the district complies with the Black Parents Workshop (BPW) lawsuit agreement.  As one of the plaintiffs in the BPW lawsuit I am happy that my efforts have led to a historic settlement with the district which will help to reduce the achievement gap by implementing a set of substantial changes.

I choose to stand up in support of the common interests of all parents, students, and educators of our district. Most importantly, I understand the need to provide additional support for those that need it most — the under-represented students who need that little bit of extra support or the parent who needs help navigating the educational maze. It’s been a roller coaster ride the last few years, and I have been helping to lead the way in supporting change in the culture and climate on the board & in our schools.

I  have lived in South Orange for 26 years and taught in the South Orange-Maplewood School District for 9 of my 20-year career in education. I currently serve as the Librarian at Verona High School and speak nationally about the importance of libraries in schools and integrating technology in education.  I am certified in the state of New Jersey as an elementary teacher, a secondary education teacher, a school librarian, and a school administrator, and hold a Masters in Education from Seton Hall University. My son Matthew is a rising senior at Columbia High School, and previously attended Marshall Elementary, South Mountain Elementary, and South Orange Middle School.  My husband Joe is a native of South Orange and is a proud graduate of the South Orange-Maplewood School District.

To learn more about my entire platform please visit my website at

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