Harvard Leadership Resident Program, JCPS Leadership Institute, PARCC Opt-Out debated at JCBOE


The final Jersey City Board of Education meeting of 2014 was a quiet, but important night for the future of the district.


The Jersey City Education Association, minus a handful of teachers, were absent from the meeting, which recognized the service of departing BOE members Angel Valentin, Carol Harrison-Arnold, and Bertram Okpokwasili.

The entire Children’s First Team from the past election spoke, highlighting agenda items dealing with the approval of a Harvard Leadership Resident Program, funding for the JCPS Leadership Institute-Principal Residency Program, as well as inquires regarding Jersey City students opting-out of PARCC testing.

Lorenzo Richardson, who will be a member of the board at the next meeting, said Jersey City Public Schools had nothing to gain from the Harvard Leadership Resident Program. Schools Superintendent Dr. Marcia Lyles countered by saying the district needed “to broaden our horizons” and that students “will be subject to more than Jersey City” in life.

Gerald Lyons, who will also be joining the board, spoke out against the agenda item funding 7 participants in the New Leaders Inc. Aspiring Principals Program, at roughly $60,000 per participant, questioning how many spots would be open to district employees, adding that it would be cheaper to look in house for the leaders of the future.

Board Member Marilyn Roman questioned the donors to the Jersey City Fund for Excellence and Equity, which include Hedge Fund Manager David Tepper and Goldman Sachs Chief Diversity Officer Edith Hunt, that paid for the program administered by New Leaders Inc., which she claimed was connected to the Broad Academy.

Board President Sangeeta Ranade responded by saying that there are “zero examples of a struggling school becoming a high performing school without a strong leader,” and added that the program was open to high performing employees in the district and new principles from outside of Jersey City.

Ranade also mentioned many local elected officials and leaders that are on the board of the Jersey City Fund for Excellence and Equity, which according to the district is a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

Jersey City Fund for Excellence and Equity Board Members
Jersey City Fund for Excellence and Equity Board Members

Gina Verdibello, who ran for a spot on the board with Lyons and Richardson in the past election, expressed her concerns as a parent with PARCC testing. Hope Blackburn, General Counsel of Jersey City Public Schools, said the district cannot opt-out, but that it was a “matter of parental conscious.”

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