Mahwah School Board Emphasizes Inclusivity and Community Engagement Amid Equity Audit Findings

The Mahwah School Board, led by Dr. Prema C. Moorthy, recently addressed the findings of an extensive equity audit conducted by US Squared. The report encompassed instructional practices, community perceptions, and policies, highlighting areas requiring improvement to ensure a respectful, inclusive environment for all students. The board also discussed community initiatives, staff retirements, student activities, and facility improvements, underscoring their dedication to enhancing student experiences and community involvement.

The audit aimed to assess the district’s state, including perceptions related to culture, climate, ability, race, identity, and gender. It was administered to various stakeholders, including parents, board members, staff, alumni, and students from grades K-12. Classroom observations were also conducted, with varying visitation frequencies across grade levels. The data collected was intended to identify areas of improvement to ensure all students feel respected, valued, and connected to the school community.

The equity focus groups, comprising 385 individuals from different stakeholder groups, provided feedback on the district and individual schools. Praise was given to the care shown by all stakeholders for the community and students, diverse curricular materials, and the Thunderbird partnership program. However, the audit also highlighted opportunities for growth, specifically regarding the need for common language and communication alignment, diversity in hiring practices, and analysis of student discipline trends.

During the meeting, the board acknowledged the importance of enhancing the learning experience for all students. This involved developing the district website to communicate ongoing efforts clearly, implementing the ntss program to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses, and conducting future Roundtable conversations. The board also discussed the need to review and potentially modify the discipline and dress code procedures to ensure fairness and avoid targeting specific groups.

The board members, including Christopher L. Hughes and Richard A. DeSilva, Jr., reviewed the report’s findings and planned actions based on it. Hughes emphasized the importance of creating a supportive and inclusive community for all students, regardless of race or gender. DeSilva urged everyone to thoroughly review the report before making judgments.

A member highlighted the importance of providing resources and support to both gifted students and those needing extra help. Emphasizing transparency, the board decided to release the entire report, redacting names to maintain privacy. The community will have the opportunity to review the report and provide feedback.

Two retirements were announced. Mrs. Carol Bruno, an instructional paraprofessional at George Washington School, and Mrs. Teal Vicaro, the administrative assistant at the same school, were recognized for their years of dedicated service.

Superintendent Michael DeTuro celebrated the success of the Thunderbird partnership program at the New Jersey School Boards Association conference, the Mahwah High School fall theater production, and the achievements of the marching Thunderbirds. He also expressed concern about the decline in community volunteerism.

The board committee reports covered updates on transportation, and the completion of renovations in the concession stand and grandstands at the school, highlighting the need for improved lighting between the two buildings. The district was also approved for $1 million in capital improvement projects, with a potential 40% reimbursement.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Michael DeTuro
School Board Officials:
Prema C. Moorthy, PhD, Richard A. DeSilva, Jr., Benjamin A. Kezmarsky, Michael Galow, Trista Daveniero, John Dinice, Christopher L. Hughes, Lynda Zaccone, Matthew Park, PhD

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