Election Maplewood Schools / Kids South Orange

BOE Candidates Respond to SOMA Black Parents Workshop Questionnaire

SOMA Black Parents Workshop has published the responses to a 9-question survey for candidates for South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education. Seven of 8 candidates responded to the following questions (see answers below):

  1. How would you propose to increase the number of Black teachers in the district, and, specifically, the presence of Black teachers?
  2. What strategies would you propose to decrease the use of disciplinary measures that have driven racial disparities in in-school and out-of-school suspensions and expulsions?
  3. Do you support the reassignment of students to K-5 schools to desegregate the student population in elementary schools, and if necessary, to use busing to transport students to schools?
  4. Do you support the full implementation of the state-mandated Amistad Black History curriculum?
  5. Would you support budgetary appropriations for supplemental programs and staffing focused on aiding the enrollment of Black students in advanced-level and Advanced Placement (AP) courses?
  6. What are the most important qualities you are looking for in the next superintendent?
  7. Based on your knowledge of the data produced by the district regarding the disparity of African American students in advanced-level and Advanced Placement (AP) classes: Do you support the discontinuation of “tracking” and the elimination of academic levels?
  8.  Based on your knowledge of the data produced by the district regarding the disparity of African American students in advanced-level and Advanced Placement (AP) classes: What strategies would you propose to support students grades K-5 to prepare them for enrollment in rigorous courses in high school?
  9. What restorative justice practices would you suggest to make certain that students do not miss valuable class time for minor disciplinary infractions?

Candidates Marian Cutler, Narda Chisholm-Greene, Javier Farfan, Michael Laskowski, Annemarie Maini, Bruno Navarro and Christopher Trzaska responded to the nine questions. Candidate Shannon Cuttle declined to respond, citing a potential conflict of interest if elected as SOMA BPW is currently suing the district for civil rights violations (see Cuttle’s statement below). Due to their decision to decline, SOMA Black Parents Workshop stated its opposition to Cuttle in a press release, saying it did not “buy” their reasoning as none of the questions “specifically sought comment on our lawsuit” and as incumbent Annemarie Maini did respond to the questionnaire.

In response to a request for comment, Cuttle sent the following statement to Village Green:

In early October, I attended a briefing for BOE candidates held by the New Jersey School Board Association (NJSBA) that addressed good governance, ethics, and avoiding potential conflicts of interest as a future sitting Board Member. When I received the Black Parents Workshop questionnaire, as I was aware that BPW was involved in litigation against the SOMSD, I thought it prudent to reach out to the NJSBA for guidance. As I result of my conversation with counsel there, I leaned on the side of caution in declining to answer the BPW questionnaire directly, to insure that I did not inadvertently create a conflict of interest, given the document’s content and the parameters of the ongoing litigation. I’ve attempted to make my strong support of equity, integration and eradication of the achievement gap known at debates and are also widely available (see www.cuttleforboe.com and https://villagegreennj.com/election/cuttle-supporting-every-child-and-closing-the-achievement-gap-through-equity-and-innovation/.)The action I took in declining the potential conflict with the questionnaire positions me to be an active vote on every policy addressing the very issues of equity that are the impetus for my candidacy and about which I care so deeply.

Find more information on Black Parents Workshop here. 

See questionnaire responses below:

Download (PDF, 342KB)

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