Hackensack School Board Meeting Highlights: Awards, Advocacy, and Educational Initiatives

The recent Hackensack School Board meeting was rife with commendations, policy matters, and concerns over the treatment of district personnel. Notably, several students and educators were recognized for their achievements, the district received a significant tutoring grant, and concerns were raised about the treatment of teachers and the frequency of half-days.

The meeting commenced with presentations acknowledging the accomplishments of four middle school girls who completed the Girls Exploring Engineering program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, a commendable step towards bridging the gender gap in STEM fields. The board, with Superintendent Robert Sanchez and President Scott James-Vickery, lauded their dedication and efforts, reinforcing the district’s commitment to gender equality in education.

Erin DeNimic, a special education teacher at Hackensack Middle School, was nominated for the New Jersey Department of Education’s Exemplary Educator award, affirming her impactful service to the students. Darius Pemberton, the Director of Special Services, was also acknowledged for receiving the Champion in Education award from the Bergen County Division of Disability Services for his advocacy for students with disabilities and commitment to inclusion and equity.

The meeting also unveiled the awarding of a $36,000 high impact tutoring grant to the Hackensack School District by the New Jersey Department of Education. This funding, set to enhance tutoring services and educational assistance to students, was announced by Superintendent Sanchez, who outlined the implementation timeline and reiterated the district’s commitment to academic success for all students.

In a testament to the district’s college readiness initiatives, Sanchez reported the success of a recent college fair at Hackensack High School, which saw over 100 representatives from colleges, trade schools, and the military, including historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The fair offered students a unique opportunity to connect with admissions representatives and explore diverse post-secondary possibilities.

However, the meeting wasn’t without its controversies. Teachers Joyce Wiers and Tony Jackson raised concerns about colleague Danielle Jackson, suggesting that outspoken teachers were being pushed out of the district. Tony Jackson further highlighted an incident where a post he made in support of his wife was misused on a page that allegedly mocked Hackensack staff members and accused parents of abusive behavior.

Parents voiced frustrations over the frequency of half-days and the logistical difficulties they pose for working families. Donna Dar Carlo and another parent suggested changes to the schedule, while Bridget brought attention to an unresolved Open Public Records Act request. The board acknowledged these concerns, hinting at possible future modifications to the half-day scheduling.

In a positive note, the board praised the district’s proactive approach towards ensuring the safety of students and staff, with Tom Trano, the High School Health and Safety Chairperson, sharing a positive experience regarding an independent safety inspection at the school.

The meeting proceeded to policy matters with Trustee Marlene Somerville motioning to table seven policies for further review, including topics like sick leave, religion in schools, and the education of homeless children.

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Robert Sanchez
School Board Officials:
Scott James-Vickery, Anthony Rodriguez, Demetrius Carroll, Christopher Coleman, Lissette Cordero-Outen, Jennifer Harris, Andrew Meehan, Lancelot Powell, Marlene Somerville, Julio Bendezu, Lydia Singh (School Business Administrator/Board Secretary)

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