Memoli on ACLU Complaint: SOMSD Will Do What is ‘Right and Just’

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At Monday’s Board of Education meeting, SOMSD Acting Superintendent James Memoli addressed a recent complaint filed against the district by the American Civil Liberties Union and others alleging that the district’s academic tracking and use of out-of-school suspension violates the Department of Education’s regulations interpreting Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Memoli had responded to the complaint in an email on October 14, in which he said the district was committed to the core values that “demography should not be destiny, academically or otherwise,” and that “all students deserve the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential.” In the email, he acknowledged that while the district has made strides to address the achievement gap, it has “much more work” to do.

Read the full complaint here:

On Monday, Memoli gave a brief statement before presenting his regular monthly report. The statement read, in part:

I am here to assure the American Civil Liberties Union, the citizens of South Orange/Maplewood and most importantly the children in our two communities that we count ourselves as enthusiastic partners in an effort to ensure that we provide a more democratic and equitable learning environment for all children.

As many of you know, I have been working in this district for over 40 years, and now have the privilege of serving as the Acting Superintendent, and I can tell you that these problems and issues are real, and that we are going to deal with them. While we have made some progress there is much work in front of us and I urge all of us to embrace this as an opportunity to do what is right and just for all of our children. They deserve no less.

Memoli’s statement was met with applause by the audience.

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