LETTER: Snyder and Innovation High Schools should be in different buildings


In a letter to the editor, a freshman at Snyder High School argues that he and his peers should not be sharing a facility with Innovation High School, given a number of discrepancies between the two schools. Mahsiah Imes on Changing Voter 18 limit to 16

Dear Editor:

Shame on the Jersey City Board of Education President Vidya Gangadin for not allowing me to speak at the September 15, 2016 board of education meeting.

Of Course this is apart of Dr. Marcia V. Lyles’s plan to prevent students from standing up and speaking out against the injustices against Snyder high school.

My name is Mahsiah Imes and I am a freshman at Snyder High school. People need to hear the negative impact of having Innovation High School in the same building as Snyder.

As a freshman, I feel I need to speak out against this now as this will affect myself and my classmates for the next four years. We tried to voice our concerns to Dr. Lyles but we were met with only opposition and excuses.

We discussed with Dr. Lyles that both schools have 2 different bell schedules that ring throughout the day. It is very distracting and confusing, especially during testing. What was the solution Dr. Lyles offered for this problem?

She stated, well we can turn Snyder bells off because you should be old enough to know when you need to switch. Innovation students are the same age, how come they get to keep their bells and we lose out?

This is just one example of them being treated better than us. It seems they are considered more important and we are second class citizens.

For example, Innovation has central air conditioning in the basement and all their classrooms are air conditioned, Snyder does not. We have only a few air conditioned rooms.

Innovation was given a lounge that they don’t even use but it has taken space away from Snyder. We are still waiting on new lockers, but of course Innovation received theirs first. Innovation eats lunch first and we must wait until they are done.

Oftentimes there is not even enough food for the Snyder students. Do you think being in the same building we do not notice that we are considered not as important in Dr. Lyles eyes as Innovation High School. We want and deserve our building back.

The old number 20 school is empty why can’t Innovation be moved into that building. We brought this solution up as well to Dr. Lyles who claimed the district doesn’t have the money to move Innovation. However, we are very aware that the money would travel with those students to the new building.

Liberty or Infinity have low numbers, why can’t they be partnered up with Innovation instead of Snyder, which has over 900 students.

NJCU is directly across the street from us, however they are offering free classes for Innovation and not Snyder. It seems Dr. Lyles wants to go back to the Supreme Court case of Plessy versus Ferguson, which upheld the segregation doctrine of “separate but equal.”

This doctrine remained until 1954 with the Supreme Court decision in Brown versus the Board of Education that clearly stated separate isn’t equal. We can not be segregated in public places and facilities and still be considered equal.

Segregation of students in public schools violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment, because separate facilities were then and still are now, inherently unequal. We feel Dr. Lyles continues to disrespect us.

She even cancelled her assembly with us calling the freshmen too immature to be allowed to speak and meet with her. We are the students of this district and we deserve to be heard by our superintendent.

If the board continues to allow this so called superintendent to disenfranchise, disrespect and underestimate the students of Henry Snyder High School, then we will be calling for the immediate resignation of Dr. Marcia Lyles.

Thank you.


Mahsiah Imes

Snyder High School freshman

Editor’s Note: Shortly after this letter was published, Jersey City Board of Education President Vidya Gangadin said that Imes did not respond when he name was called to speak at last week’s meeting. The full video footage of the meeting, released by the school district, will be available soon,

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  1. The Board of Education President Vidya Gangadin is full of it. When they called my name I was in the bathroom. I came back in and went up to the Board Secretary who said, “It’s up to the Board President.” I asked The Board’s VP who signaled that she had declined to let me speak. When someone’s name is called and they stepped out, normally President Gangadin allows them to speak. However, Thursday she followed Dr. Lyles’s orders of course. This district should be expecting a lot of lawsuits. When people speak up they are threatened and or retaliated against. Stand up and speak out… It’s freedom of speech.

  2. Congratulations Mahsiah. Your comments do not fall on deaf ears. There are others who are listening. Since you are a freshman, just entering high school, may I suggest you look into a career as an attorney. I heard you speak at the Jersey City City Council meeting sometime ago. You have the ability to transcend the negativity in your life. Use it as a platform to always stand up for your rights as a human being. Today there are too many of our young Black men who are being shot by law enforcement officers. The reasons are varied, but they all appear to be because of the color of our skin. Always be proud of who you are! I am very proud of you.

    • Thanks Ms. Joan Terrell, I have too also seen you speak at the Jersey City Council and Jersey City Board of Education meetings previously. Thank you for standing up and speaking out for the students of Henry Snyder High School as an Alumni of Snyder you are amazing. Thank You for the encouragement. I love your comment and will use it for future betterment of myself.

  3. I can actually say that I was there and I go to many meetings on a monthly basis. ..The president has in the past allowed others to speak even after their name was called multiple times. I can even recall a time she called a name 4 times and the person wasn’t even in the building.
    This was just a way to try to shut Mahsiah up, and as you can see, it will take way more then not calling him to kerp his mouth closed. #missionaccomplished