LETTER: Shannon Cuttle is a Champion and Leader for Children

by Reginald “Reggie” Bledsoe
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Five candidates are vying for three seats on the 9-member South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education on November 2, 2021: Shannon Cuttle (incumbent), William RodriguezQawi TelesfordArun Vadlamani and Kaitlin Wittleder. Terms are for three years. 

Shannon Cuttle and Reggie Bledsoe Credit: Rebecca Panico, formerly of TAPIntoNewark

Dear Editor:

The Essex County LGBTQ Democratic Caucus unequivocally supports Shannon Cuttle for the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education.

Shannon is already serving as the First Vice President of the SOMA Board of Education. They are the first non-binary individual elected to a school board in New Jersey. In 2020, Shannon became one of the first non-binary elected officials to serve as a Democratic National Convention Delegate.

Shannon helped launch the Safe Schools Network and advocated throughout our country, including Washington, D.C., and the South Orange Maplewood School District before their tenure on the board of education, for inclusive curriculum and safe schools free of bullying. Essex County is lucky to have a fearless leader like Shannon, a beacon of hope and leading the way for many students who will soon follow in their footsteps. We’re glad to have Shannon in leadership to ensure that quality education is possible for all South Orange-Maplewood School District students.

We need to continue the progress Shannon has made in the school district over the last three years. I am the former Vice President of the Essex County School Boards Association and a former Newark Board of Education Member. I understand the volunteer time commitments associated with serving on a School Board. Several factors go into helping families and students. Besides attending public meetings, New Jersey School Board Members sit on school board committees for long hours in the evenings and weekends. They often must go through several professional state mandatory training so that the school district is not penalized for not building capacity and complying with governance rules under NJQSAC indicators. NJQSAC is the N.J. Department of Education’s monitoring and district self-evaluation system for public school districts. Shannon has met if not exceeded those mandatory training requirements on top of their regular responsibilities that go into being a school board member.

As the COVID-19 pandemic ebbs in U.S. schools, the South Orange Maplewood School District needs qualified proven leaders like Shannon at the table making critical decisions for the children and families in South Orange and Maplewood, NJ. We wholeheartedly support Shannon’s candidacy. On Tuesday, November 02, 2021, I hope you will join us by casting your vote to reelect a champion and leader for children, my good friend Shannon Cuttle for the South Orange Maplewood Board of Education.

Sincerely,

Reginald “Reggie” Bledsoe, Chair

Essex County LGBTQ Democratic Committee Caucus

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