Jersey City BOE moving forward with plan not to renew superintendent’s contract

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Despite some criticisms, the Jersey City Board of Education is moving forward with their plan not to renew the contract Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marcia Lyles at the end of next year – with many teachers vocalizing their support of the decision last night.

The board convened a special meeting yesterday evening to get the public’s input on a variety of issues, including the non-renewal of Lyles contract.

There was no shortage of the public who spoke out, particularly members of the Jersey City Education Association.

Andy Garcia, a 14-year Jersey City school teacher and an JCEA executive board member, explained the district’s problems go deeper than “shirts and lunch periods,” in reference to teachers being reprimanded by principals for wearing union red T-shirts.

“I believe it is time for you to step down and resign your position effective immediately. It would be in the best interest of this district if you stepped down graciously and let another person handle the reins,” Garcia said.

JCEA President Ron Greco said the “whole system is broken down.”

“Who’s going to take ownership of it. I have 3,900 people in my union. Who do they blame, me. So, who do I blame: Marcia Lyles. Let’s go doc, pack your bags.”

Just one member of the public spoke in favor of Lyles, stating that her tenure had produced tangible results, but that argument seemed to mostly fall on deaf ears.

In an interview after the meeting, Trustee Marilyn Roman, who introduced a resolution not to re-new Lyles’ contract at the tail end of their January 2nd reorganization meeting, drew harsh criticism from The Jersey Journal Editorial Board.

In response to the volume of criticism that Lyles received from parents, staff and union members, Roman said that she would never speak personally about someone else, but that it was prudent to review and look over the quality of an educational leader’s work.

“That’s what this board has to do this year in order to be able to find somebody who can do something that we think needs to be done that perhaps wasn’t,” Roman began.

“I think that in terms of the superintendent I look at all of the testing, although I don’t think that testing is the only thing that we should be looking at. That only measures what they’re testing, doesn’t mean that we’ve actually taught kids enough because if you look at the test scores they’re just abominable. We need to be able to do something about them, and it’s mostly in the poor areas of this city where we need to be able to find new methods, and we have spent millions of dollars on [testing] and yet we have not gotten results.”

As far as the criticism she received from the Jersey Journal Editorial Board, they characterized the board’s January 2 add-on resolution as “childish, cowardly and unprofessional,” she seemed to brush it off.

“I really don’t care about that, I don’t really care about what the newspapers say to tell you the truth because I have to live with myself. I just do what I think is best to do. And I don’t think it was a big surprise to the people on the board and the superintendent,” said Roman.

The editorial asserted that the resolution skirted the law because it wasn’t advertised in advance as required by the Open Public Meetings Act.

“It’s legal for any board member to walk something onto the board. That’s not something we can’t do. Any board member on any subject that they want to have addressed by the board can bring a resolution to the attention of the board at any meeting, and they don’t have to tell anybody that,” Roman said.