VIDEO: Coalition on Race Hosts South Orange-Maplewood Board of Ed Candidates

by The Village Green
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The South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race’s Schools Committee hosted its annual South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education debate on October 25, 2022 and included discussions on topics ranging from implementation of the Intentional Integration Initiative, vo-tech education, the suspension moratorium, and professional development with regard to preventing biases in instruction.

All five candidates running for three seats on the BOE participated: Regina EckertNubia WilsonBill GiffordRitu Pancholy and William Meyer.

Eckert, Wilson and Gifford are running on the Students Come First” ticket. Pancholy and Meyer are running on the “Doing Better, Together” ticket.

Due to a technical issue in recording, the video starts 20 minutes into the virtual event. The recording begins during answers to Question #2. Bill Gifford, Will Meyer, Ritu Pancholy and Nubia Wilson’s answers to Question #2 are captured; Regina Eckert’s answer is not.


  1. A disparity in achievement between white students and students of color has been a persistent problem in this District as evidenced by the recent report of Columbia High School grades. Do you have ideas about changes in pedagogical and administrative approaches to improve student outcomes?
  2. Do you think the elimination of courtesy transportation affects the Intentional Integration Initiative? If so, how? If not, why not? How would you fund extended transportation without negatively impacting other school services or programs?
  3. (Timestamp: 5:10) What do you believe is the role of vo-tech education in our District? How would you create or advocate for more varied opportunities for students outside of the path to college.
  4. (Timestamp: 12:05) Do you support the suspension moratorium, yes or no? If no, what policy would you propose to address the disparity in suspension rates between white students and students of color? If yes, do you believe we have adequate mental health and social/emotional supports in place to support students and address behavior problems in non-punitive ways?
  5. (Timestamp 18:40) What would you say about the school district to a Black family with school-age children considering a move to South Orange/Maplewood to encourage them to move here?

South Orange-Maplewood 2022 Board of Education candidates Regina Eckert, Ritu Pancholy, Nubia Wilson, Will Meyer and Bill Gifford and CCR Trustee Jocelyn Ryan.

Audience questions:

26:15 Regarding affirming transgender, LGBTQ+ rights and supports for students.

33:42 What’s the plan for the Hispanic/Latino students/community in the district?

40:25 Advise how the focus on the curriculum at the elementary level will improve outcomes for students of color and individuals with disability if you don’t also include professional development with regard to preventing biases in instruction.

48:05 Regarding the Muslim population: Do you support giving Eid al-Fitr off from school?

53:25 Would you support parental ranking to assign students to various elementary schools instead of the to proximity assumption that’s in the [Intentional Integration] algorithm as it is?

59:55 Draw a contrast between your policies approaches and priorities as opposed to your opponents.

1:01:17 Closing Remarks — 2 minutes for each candidate to answer the following question:

How will you personally navigate difficult working relationships to find effective, respectful ways to work together for the benefit of our students? And how will voting for you ensure equity for all students?

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