With no new contract, West New York teachers take over chaotic BOE meeting


At one of the most chaotic meetings in a long time, the West New York teachers took over last night’s board of education meeting, the last one before the November 8 election, to continue an aggressive push for a new contract.


The meeting immediately started off on the wrong foot as Board President Adam Parkinson asked to break for a 20-minute executive session to discuss union negotiations, something the teachers were not to happy about.

Trustee Matthew Cheng, who said his mic was cut off before heading to closed session, decided to walk out of the meeting so that only four board members would remain: which is not a quorum for a public meeting.

Trustee Lorena Portillo showed up late, but decided to leave before entering closed session. As a result, the closed session lasted around 45 minutes as the board scrambled to get another trustee to show up on the fly.

Eventually, Board Vice President Damarys Gonzalez arrived and the meeting continued. Board Counsel Lester Taylor revealed that negotiators from the board and the West New York Education Association will meet on October 12.

However, that news wasn’t good enough for the vast majority of those in attendance.

Andrew Bove, one of many local teachers who spoke during the public portion, said that 24 teachers have left the district since July 1, blaming the ongoing contract dispute.

Ron Grossinger, a Memorial High School teacher, praised his fellow colleagues in the classroom, but added it’s about time the district gets its finances under control.

“I feel like I’m working with some of the best people I’ve ever worked with in my life. The teachers here are really putting in an amazing effort and I feel like we’re really competitive now,” he said.

” … The only thing now is that, financially, we are being punished: that’s how it feels. So I want to repeat what I heard in the crowd tonight from a young child. And the young child said ‘it feels like the judges are up here and the criminals are over here but they didn’t do anything wrong.'”

After over an hour of public comment, Parkinson and Superintendent of Schools Clara Brito Herrera responded to some of the concerns brought up.

“The president of the board of education is not the boss of the board members. The boss of the board members is every single registered voter in West New York. Those are the bosses of our board members, not the board president,” Parkinson said in response to complaints about certain board members consistently being absent.

He also was critical of other board of education candidates taking the microphone to complain about politics in the school board, yet mentioned their ballot position at some point during their speech.

Parkinson and Trustee David Morel are seeking re-election on November 8, running on the latest incarnation of the Children First ticket along with Jose Alcantara – who was recently called out over old social media posts.

Herrera praised teachers like Grossinger for going the extra mile inside and outside the classroom, noting that West New York is becoming competitive with various other school districts close and far as far as curriculum is concerned.

She also noted that the district no longer has Abbott status from the state before concluding by stating that 90 percent of the teachers who left the district left for personal reasons.

“Some might have left because of the contract, but many, many … I guarantee you, 90 percent of those people that you mentioned in this microphone tonight left for other reasons that were not just the contract,” Herrera said.

West New York teachers have been without a contract since July 1, 2015, though it looked like they may be making some headway when the BOE approved a $136 million budget in May.

The budget, which came with an eight percent tax increase, also had $850,000 allocated towards settling the contract dispute, but the matter remains in negotiations.

The board took no formal action on the contract at last night’s meeting and Trustees Steven Rodas and Dennise Mejia were absent.

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  1. No Abbott designation because the name is changed msaco@lvhcpa.com herrera but why would you care because you’re suing to increase your salary knowing full well when you were appointed of the star restrictions on superintendents! Your contract should be rescinded and you should be replaced carpetbagger

  2. I am so sick and tired of these WNY teachers constantly bitching that they don’t make enough money… please. The education system in WNY is brutal.. And as a WNY TAXPAYER Im sick of it… You got teachers renting halls to party and drink with students… teachers hooking up with students in Memorial… Promotions handed out to out of town people who are Albio puppets… The taxpayers of this town are sick of it… The teachers work only 5 40 minute periods in Memorial And 6 40 minute periods in the other school… 180 days a year…

    • @Edward Nygma: You are not counting grading time off the clock, plus lesson planning time off the clock, plus parent teacher conference time off the clock, any field trip time, many high school history teachers are also expected to spend time after school coaching sports teams, the time tutoring that’s not paid, Plus the phone calls that are made after hours to answer parent questions, plus the weeks of preparation before and after the 180 days of instruction. This is of course not counting all of the money that teachers put into their classrooms out of their own pockets/salaries. But yah. Teachers aren’t worth what they are paid…I mean they are the foundation upon which ALL of the professions are built. The very fact that you could write the above comment is thanks to a teacher.

  3. It’s not just Roque people… You got a lot of Vegabots which I Dispise that got bumps to VP and Principal positions… SMH…. and ALL OF THEM live in Bergen County…

  4. Trustee Parkinson says he is not the boss of the trustees but he can arbitrarily turn off a microphone and go into executive session when you can clearly hear the other trustee say “no”.
    I went to a meeting as a concerned parent and I found a circus. How can a child be preceeding a board with an over-100 millions budget? He said “go out and vote” and I will vote, but against him. I did not like what I saw that night. Then, the superintendent said “books are not everything” but the way I see it, we have no books and no happy teachers, so what is left?

  5. A 20 year should not be the President of the Board of Education.

    Not only does he not know how to address, imagine how he talks to children.

    He probably screams and yells and sits at his desk and says that if it’s not my way, then too bad!

    Who would want this person teaching a classroom full of students the way he speaks to adults?

  6. WNY teachers voted for Roque and his puppet superintendent. What are they complaining now? Those union teachers VOTED, and ELECTED the crap of BoE trustees we have. Now, they (teachers) have to sleep with the enemy.

  7. @John Lin, THE MAJORITY OF THE CITIZENS OF WNY elected Roque and THE MAJORITY OF THE CITIZENS OF WNY elected the BOE Trustees. The WNY Teachers union does not endorse candidates.

  8. FREEWNY: your comments do not reflect reality. EVERY one knows that the union endorses BOE trustees, behind the scene. Where do you live? We can start by having a BOE meet and greet where you make it close door policy. what a joke! Now you are stuck with Roque for the awful choices you made