Board of Education Convenes for Its First October Meeting
The Clifton Board of Education met on October 5, 2023, for a regularly scheduled meeting. All commissioners were in attendance along with several candidates for November’s election. Tanya Suarez called in during public comments; Joe Siano, Joe Canova, and Cameron Hebron all attended in person.
Personal feuds between commissioners caused a series of arguments throughout the course of the meeting. That topic will be covered in a following article. The Clifton Times does not want that to overshadow the other important topics discussed at the meeting.
Assistant Superintendent Mark Gengaro said that the administration had heard rumblings that a large crowd would be present and "to ensure the safety of the students, staff, commissioners, and the public," they requested additional security personnel. Typically there is one security person per 20 attendees, he said, and not knowing how many people might show up, two additional personnel were requested.
Public recognition included a concerned parent who had questions about a state policy addressing the rights of transgender students. Policy 5756- Transgender Students says that the school is under no obligation to reveal a student’s transition of gender or use of a different name if the student wishes that to be the case. The policy acknowledges that the safety of the student is paramount and that sometimes, school is the one place where a student may feel safe to be “out.” It was the parent’s point of view that because of his role as the legal guardian of his child, all sensitive information as such should be shared with him, even if the child does not want it to be.
During board member comments, Commissioner Anthony Santiago addressed the issue by repeating, “Nobody is preventing your child from talking to you.” This was especially important because the parent remarked that schools are intervening in the communication between child and parent. Nothing in the policy suggests that students should be counseled to keep secrets from their families.
During Dr. Robertozzi’s allocated time for the Superintendent's Report, he mentioned various activities going on in the district. One was the recent creation of a staff intramural softball league. This league is made up of staff from across the district and is meant to promote healthy and new relationships for teachers. Also advertised is the upcoming Clifton High School Open House. This event is set to take place on October 10 from 6:00 to 7:30 PM.
The Clifton Education Foundation will be having a 25th anniversary celebration! On October 11, between 5:00 and 9:00 PM, everyone is encouraged to eat at UNO Pizzaeria and Grill where talented Cliftonites will sing, recite poetry, and share other talents. 25% of sales will go to the foundation.
Following Dr. Robertozzi’s report, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction, Janina Kusielewicz gave a presentation on Clifton’s NJSLA/DLM Assessment Data. This included statistics and percentages on how well Clifton students are doing compared to state averages. Highlighted especially were Advanced Placement test scores. An overwhelming majority of students surpassed state and global averages. Growth was also demonstrated in higher scores recorded for Quarterly Exams when comparing marking Period 1 and then marking Period 2. The school district continues to utilize online apps/websites for learning. These include Imagine Math, Accelerated Reader, tutor.com, and much more. Mrs. Kusielewicz’s full report can be found by watching this portion of the meeting HERE.
The Residency/Security Committee reports were given by Commissioner Anthony Santiago. Included in the reports was the discovery of four additional students falsely claiming to be residents of Clifton. Three of the four attended Passaic County Technical Institute. The district took action, and about $50,000 is now being saved as a result. Commissioner Fahim Abedrabbo questioned whether or not other school districts could be dealt with in terms of reimbursing Clifton for money spent on those students. The Board Attorney and Superintendent claimed there is no precedent for that, and the battle would likely be with the parents.
The next meeting is scheduled for October 19 at 7:00 PM in the Board of Education building. To watch Thursday’s meeting, click HERE.