LETTER: Jersey City BOE trustee needs to listen better when it comes to special ed


In a letter to the editor, Jersey City resident Malcolm Crawford pleads his case as to why Board of Education Trustee Younass Barkouch needs to listen better when it comes to the district’s special education curriculum.

The Jersey City Board of Education Headquarters at 346 Claremont Ave. Photo via Google Maps.

Dear Editor,

Jersey City is a great city! There is little doubt that due to our diversity and “wokeness” we are headed for a prosperous and invigorating future.

However, there is a slippery slope between efficiency and unseasoned eagerness.

Individuals in leadership roles can be “hip,” but we have to make sure they are qualified and prepared to take us to new heights.

When this does not happen it hinders progress and brings an incredible level of disgrace and embarrassment.

I witnessed an example of this week at the JCBOE caucus meeting (available online to view entirely).

As the public comment portion began, a very simple and legitimate request was suggested to survey parents of Special Education to improve services and allow more transparency when parents are confused regarding protocols and procedures.

Not a far fetched idea by no means. The response from the majority of the board members was outstanding.

The superintendent promised an audit (even though she did mistakenly explain why two kindergarten Special Education classes were forced to transfer from a school), and the trustees spoke to how important an audit could be, I was really impressed.

Score a point for Jersey City! One board trustee even spoke to her personal connections to challenges of special needs services. You could feel the commitment and compassion from the board members and the importance of an audit and possible survey.

UNTIL…Trustee Younass Mohamed Barkouch spoke. This young man clearly felt discussing the audit and survey for Special Education was unwarranted.

He believed the Director of Special Education was on top of the situation and supported this with “I spent a weekend retreat with Dr. Crisonino,” so let’s not get up in arms. He did a better job defending Dr. Crisonino’s practices than the director himself.

The unseasoned ear of Mr. Mohamed Barkouch did not listen to his fellow board member Afaf Muhammad (African American) when she personalized the question to launch the audit.

Now, I am sure this young man has a bright future and will eventually bring a lot to the table. Unfortunately, at this time he comes off as an out of touch disconnected board member looking to appease rather than lead.

He literally reminds me of a high school student looking to “memorize the material” rather than “interpret the material” (that’s often what separates a good student and a great student).

It will be disappointing if other board members don’t feel what I’m sure other parents would feel if they had time to watch the meeting (available online). The immaturity is insulting to parents of Jersey City Public Schools.

The audacity would be comical, if we weren’t talking about our children.

Please listen to the archive of this meeting online at JCBOE website, you can actually hear Mr. Mohamed Barkouch playing a video game as he forgot to log off the zoom at the end of the meeting. Jersey City deserves better.

Remarkably, I believe this young man has a lot to offer our school community. I want to see him do great things, but I am asking for Mr. Mohamed Barkouch to publicly apologize to the parents of JCBOE and his fellow board members (specifically Afaf Muhammad).

Also, I strongly suggest Mr. Mohamed Barkouch spend an hour in a school special education classroom. Hey, let’s make it PS 15 in Greenville, I’m sure he will be welcomed.

I think this would better prepare you to answer the call…… more than a weekend retreat.

If the trustee doesn’t feel comfortable with those suggestions, I think he should be removed as a board member.

Malcolm Crawford
Jersey City resident

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