8 months after announcement, Jersey City BOE still planning for local control

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Eight months after it was announced that Jersey City public schools would regain full local control in 2016, the board of education is still game planning on how to make this scenario a reality.

Back in October, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Superintendent of Schools Marcia Lyles announced that local public schools would once again gain authority over “operations” and “personnel/human resources.”

The transition team put together to help facilitate this situation includes representatives from state Senator Sandra Cunningham’s (D-31) office, the city, the board of education, the Jersey City Education Association and several other entities.

Cathy Coyle, a controversial former Jersey City associate superintendent, now an assistant to state Education Commissioner David Hespe, noted that the board is expected to revise their nepotism, employment practices and evaluation of staff policies.

Furthermore, if the board fails to comply with any element of the transition or district improvement plans, Hespe has the ability “to replace the area of operations and/or personnel under partial state intervention.”

Jersey City education activist Monique Andrews called for a forensic audit of the school district before they return to local control.

JCEA President Ron Greco said he’s heard the song and dance of returning to local control before and it never happened, also claiming that the JCEA had been frozen out of several committee meetings on the subject.

Bob Cecchini, who recently retired after 40 years of teaching within the district, reminded everyone on hand that the state takeover was only supposed to last for five years and blasted Coyle’s involvement with the process.

Gina Verdibello, a longtime activist and three-time BOE candidate, called for Hespe to face the music and attend these types of meetings on his own.

As Coyle began to answer the public speakers, the fire alarm went off, prompting three fire trucks to arrive on the scene.

After about 20 minutes, the department deemed the building safe to re-enter – the issue appeared to be a minor problem with the boiler in the basement.

Coyle was then able to respond to criticisms and questions directed her way. The board took no formal action at the meeting.