To the editor:
Up until last June I was happy to leave the runnings of the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education in the hands of others.
But that all changed the first week of June after a child entered Maplewood Middle School, where my younger daughter attends, with a loaded Glock handgun and the entire school was placed in a “Code Red” lockdown. Later that week at Columbia High School, where my older daughter is a student, there was another security incident—this time involving an air gun and a knife.
Through a friend I was introduced to a small group of local residents — including Marian Raab and Elissa Malespina — who had recently organized a new education advocacy group called South Orange/Maplewood Parents for a Quality Education.
I felt it was important the Board of Education address the concerns of the community and let the community know how it planned to deal with the items raised by the host of parents, students and teachers who spoke during a public forum the week after the security incidents. With the help of Marian Raab and Elissa Malespina, I put together a list of “Action Items” to present to the Board of Education at its next meeting.
The action items were posted by the Village Green (read them here) and the list was varied. Parents asked that the board take action and address major concerns about school access and security; afterschool programs for at-risk students; harassment in the hallways; revise the student code of conduct; increase the number of professionals of color in every guidance department; and more.
I strongly urge you to vote for Team SOMA 2015—Marian Raab, Elissa Malespina and their running mate Shannel Roberts—for the Board of Education. This is a slate of candidates that take the safety and security of our children extremely seriously and have the experience and the knowledge to work with school administration and law enforcement to make sure that we never, ever have a week like we did last June.