LETTER: Original Hoboken ‘Kids First’ BOE member, ex-trustee, backs latest version of team


In a letter to the editor, former Hoboken Board of Education Trustee Maureen Sullivan, a member of the original “Kids First” slate, is backing the latest version of the team.

Former Hoboken Board of Education Trustee Maureen Sullivan, also a part of the original “Kids First” team, at a debate on April 4th, 2009. Screenshot via YouTube.

Dear Editor,

I was elected to the Hoboken school board in 2009 as part of the original Kids First slate and served until 2013. On Nov. 8 I’m voting for the new incarnation of Kids First: Pavel Sokolov, Cindy Wiegand and Donna Magen (6, 7, 8 on the ballot).

Kids First is running against the Leadership that Listens slate backed by the current school board, but the board neither listened nor led during January’s referendum on the $331 million high school and ice rink.

The board kept the project secret for years because being transparent is not how they operate, and voters rejected it by a 65% to 35% margin.

But what about academics? The board tells us that it has taken major strides in academic achievement. Yet, there are some shockingly low outcomes in the district.

In 2019, the last year before Covid temporarily halted the annual state tests, only 43% of the 21 8th graders who took Algebra I passed the Algebra test.

More disturbing, not one of the 59 8th graders in the regular math class passed the state math exam. That’s a 0% pass rate. So, of the 80 8th graders tested in math that year, only nine were proficient.

I asked the board about the zero-pass rate at the public portion of a board meeting this year. I got no response.

After the meeting, two members hustled over to me to say a) “their” children weren’t having a problem, and b) if I got the numbers from the state, they must be wrong because the state always makes mistakes. However, the figures are on the district’s own website.

What other scores are on the website? In the high school, only 3% of the students who took the Algebra I test passed it. In Geometry, the pass rate was 9%. For Algebra II, 18 students took the test and 17% passed it. That’s three kids.

Overall, of the 225 high school students tested in math, 8% passed. In all grades, of 912 tested, the pass rate was 30%, down one point from the previous year.

In the seventh grade, a dismal 57% of the white students were proficient in math, and only 16% of Hispanic students and none of the black students passed.

Supporters of the current board boast about how good the schools are now and how bad they were before the superintendent arrived in 2015.

However, back in 2013, my last year on the board, 30.3% of the 102 8th graders were proficient in math. That’s nothing to brag about. But in 2019 it was 11.2%, so where is the progress, especially for students of color?

After I left the board and with my children no longer in the district, I stopped following what the board was up to. Then the referendum on the new high school dragged me back in.

I can’t think of one other person I served with on the board – including those who are supporting the other slate – who would have conspired for years to keep a multi-million project secret from the community.

But unlike this board, we had members who would speak up and challenge the administration. It’s time for some oxygen in our sealed 9-0 school board chamber.

Maureen Sullivan
Hoboken resident

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/hcvcp/public_html/wp-content/themes/Hudson County View/includes/wp_booster/td_block.php on line 353


  1. Thank you for being a true reformer Maureen unlike fake reformers like Irene “Butt Buddies” Sokolov, Theresa Minutillo, Emily Jabbour, Ravi Bhalla, etc.

      • Those were Irene Sokolov’s own words in describing City Councilman Mike Defusco and former school board member Peter Biancomano. She is the highly elitist school board member who is losing her mind over this election.

        • Irene’s apology accepted by DeFusco FIVE YEARS AGO:

          “The text message was intended for a conversation I was having with two girlfriends, musing on the interesting and often changing political landscape in Hoboken. A term was used that I always understood to mean “good friends,” or in this particular case, interesting political friends.

          Of course I was embarrassed when I realized my mistake, and then mortified when I learned that Mr. Madigan interpreted the text to mean that I was homophobic. Nothing could be further from the truth.

          It is not who I am, nor reflected in anything I have ever done or said before.

          I have personally apologized to my board colleagues, the administration and to Councilman De Fusco. I reached out to many family members, friends and community members, including those in the LGBT community, and I am grateful for their support and understanding. It is important that I use this situation as a learning experience and perhaps spur a positive community conversation about the importance of being ever mindful of the power of words.

          I truly regret the situation and sincerely apologize to those impacted.”

          Good enough for everyone but the Kids First Trumpers.

    • Kids First has not filed the required ELEC campaign finance disclosure forms: either they had to file an A-2 (means they will spend less than $14,000) or they had to file an R-1, which mandates ALL DONORS, ALL COLLECTIONS AND DISBURSEMENTS.

      Kids First DID NOT. They have improperly filed a C-1 form (does not meet R-1 criteria).

      Kids First did at least one MAILER, POSTERS, TEXTING, FUNDRAISING. They are spending, spending, spending- where’s the loot coming from?


      Where is the DARK MONEY coming from? Does Maureen the “Real Reformer” know?

    • Ask her about how she stonewalled on getting her fingerprints for a criminal background check, required for Hoboken school board members BEFORE they take their seat.

  2. The truth is on the side of 6-7-8. The opposing side has no platform, no ideas and is fighting to keep an awful status quo.

    Does anyone remember how our BOE wildly miscalculated their percentages during the first referendum? Sure, anyone can make a math mistake but for all 9 board members to allow those mistakes into their public presentation, what does it tell the students? What does it tell the public?

    It tells the students that math isn’t important! It tells them that THEY aren’t important! And our students AREN’T important to the NINE current v board members!

    On November 8th, let’s vote 6-7-8 so we have a board with 3 members who care about our schools and all our students!

    • Hoboken voters came out in huge numbers to oppose a massive and excessive construction plan they had no input on.

      Now they will again be asked to vote to get the real transparency and honesty that Christine Johnson and her Board members have refused to give the voting public.

      Vote for Kids First.

  3. “However, back in 2013,…. 30.3% of the 102 8th graders were proficient in math. That’s nothing to brag about. But in 2019 it was 11.2%, so where is the progress, especially for students of color?”

    Wow, yet another reason to vote Kids First. 6-7-8 on November 8.

  4. Altogether, the class received over $17.5 million in scholarships and $65,000 in private awards, according to district spokesman Christopher Munoz.

    Congratulations, Class of 2022! Best wishes for your next adventure!

    Here’s where the graduates are off to next fall:

    Arizona State University
    Bergen Community College
    Binghamton University
    Bloomfield College
    Borough of Manhattan Community College
    Brandeis University
    Brown University (including Valedictorian Rowan Ellison)
    Bucknell University
    Caldwell University
    Centenary University
    Columbia University
    Delaware State University
    Denison University
    East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania
    Fairfield University
    Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus
    Felician University
    Fordham University
    Franklin and Marshall College
    Georgian Court University
    Hamilton College (including Salutatorian Andrew Castlen)
    Hudson County Community College
    Kean University
    Keystone College
    Loyola University Maryland
    Marist College
    Middlebury College
    Monmouth University
    Montclair State University
    New Jersey City University (NJCU)
    New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)
    New York Institute of Technology (NYIT)
    Ohio State University
    New York University – Honors Program
    Pace University, New York City Campus
    Pennsylvania State University-Greater Allegheny
    Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
    Ramapo College
    Rider University
    Rowan University
    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University- Honors College
    Rutgers University- Newark
    Rutgers University Camden
    Saint Elizabeth University
    Saint Joseph’s College
    Saint Peter’s University
    Skidmore College
    Stevens Institute of Technology
    Stockton University
    Stony Brook University
    Temple University
    The College of New Jersey (TCNJ)
    University of Connecticut
    University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    University of New Haven
    University of Pennsylvania
    University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus
    University of Washington
    Wagner College
    William Paterson University of New Jersey
    Williams College

  5. Bitter, mean Maureen only lasted a short while– months, not years– in the Kids First coalition before she threw the mother of all tantrums, attacked her colleagues in a letter to the press without forewarning or discussion, then ran an unrelenting, nasty campaign against the highly qualified, personable and talented newly hired School Superintendent Dr. Frank Romano (https://www.nj.com/hobokennow/2010/02/dr_frank_romano_accepts_role_a.html).

    Maureen’s meeting histrionics and nasty letter writing campaign were so unrelentingly virulent, Dr. Romano quit Hoboken before he started; note, Romano was immediately snapped up by the Franklin Lakes School District. That was 2010. Thanks to Maureen, the district scrambled to hire an Interim Superintendent, Peter Carter, who only stayed in for one year, leaving Hoboken without a Superintendent, again. Yes, the Queen of Instability visited her instability upon the Hoboken school district, and fought tooth and nail with her Kids First colleagues.

    Leave it to Maureen to cherry pick old data (2018-19) to suit her bitter partisan narrative and ignore the amazing outcomes of the HHS Class of 2022. Hoboken High School graduates reap millions in scholarships and attend some of America’s finest colleges, including Ivies. Suck on that, Maureen..


    Did Maureen tell you she ran for re-election against Kids First and got creamed?

    Of course not. What does that tell you? For one, Hoboken voters repudiated her antics and rewarded the original Kids First for their performance.

    • Maureen’s SLATE “Real Results” ran and got creamed– they were partisan Republicans running a vile campaign against Kids First, spearheaded by GOP partisans Maureen Sullivan and Nathan Brinkman.

    • Dr. Johnson dumped her take it or leave quarter billion dollar plus plan on the taxpayers of Hoboken “without forewarning or discussion.”

      • You are right! They didn’t want anyone to find out someone’s wife purchased 10 percent of a pub on 1st street last year. Branco would have uncovered it. Say what you want about Branco, but he is still here and still is a threat to Bhalla and Co.