Montclair, NJ, is a suburb of New York City that has long been known for its excellent public schools. In recent years, however, the town has been shaken by a fight over corporate reform. The battle intensified when the school board hired a Broadie as superintendent.


Here is the latest report from the front lines:



“How far will corporate ed-reformers go to silence those who speak against the corporate takeover of their schools?


“That is the question residents of Montclair, NJ are asking themselves after the Monday, March 14, 2016 Montclair Board of Education meeting, where they learned that their former BOE had been “[s]erving subpoenas on public schoolteachers in class. Reading them their Miranda rights on school grounds. Using taxpayers’ money to hire investigators to search school employees’ computers late at night.”



“And compiling an “enemies list” of 27 parents, teachers, and principals names to be searched by the international security firm Kroll, Associates, including a dissenting Board of Education member, the President and Executive Board Members of the local education association, founding members of the grass roots, pro-public education group Montclair Cares About Schools, and parents who had attended MCAS issues forums or commented on social media.

Emails Paint Picture of Covert Operations and Confusion Over Montclair Assessment Investigation



“These actions all took place under cover of an investigation about district assessments in 2013 locally referred to as “Assessmentgate.” This blog posted about Assessmentgate which was conducted while Superintendent Penny MacCormack, a graduate of the Eli Broad training program, was in charge of the Montclair schools. MacCormack was Superintendent from Nov. 1, 2012 until she abruptly resigned and left the district in the spring of 2015.



“The Assessmentgate investigation was started after district “quarterly assessments” were seen posted on a scavenger site called Gobookee. MacCormack and her reform controlled BOE maintained that the posting had to have been the result of an insider “leak,” and passed a Nov. 1, 2013 resolution authorizing the BOE to undertake an investigation casting a “wide net” to find the person(s) responsible.



“Teacher Syreeta Carrington testified at the Monday March 14, 2016 at the Montclair Board of Education meeting, that she was
… the teacher who first alerted the district to the availability of the tests online, [and] read a letter for Casey La Rosa, [a Nationally Board Certified teacher] which described ongoing harassment by the attorney for the BOE during the investigation period, including La Rosa being read her Miranda Rights during a class break and repeated harassing emails and phone calls which resulted in her experiencing panic attacks. [La Rosa subsequently resigned from the district.]

Montclair BOE: More Allegations, Questions And An “Enemies” List of Names From Assessmentgate



“The community always maintained that there had been no leak. An internal IT review by Alan Benezra on October 26, 2013, the day after the district learned of the postings, reported that the assessments had not been posted with proper password protection and were probably scraped by the scavenger site.


“A Nov. 5 email posted online after the March 14th BOE meeting revealed that District Business Administrator Brian Fleischer concluded that :



“much like [BOE member] David Cummings indicated, the URLS for those assessments could have been found through a search, and the URLS for the assessments were not themselves password protected. ..It is therefore possible that no one ever hit ‘send’ or otherwise deliberately uploaded our URLs or PDFs to Gobookee, but rather that Gobookee itself found and ’stole’ the assessments through its own search engine.”

Emails Paint Picture of Covert Operations and Confusion Over Montclair Assessment Investigation


“In spite of this information, MacCormack and her reform dominated Board stretched out the harassing and intimating investigation while racking up bills for the district to pay.



“You can watch a tape of the Monday March 14, 2016 Montclair Board of Education Meeting where a long line of teachers and members of the public raise these troubling issues and ask their current sitting BOE to clarify what happened in their district, who was responsible, what the investigation cost, and the extent to which civil liberties and the runnings of their district were disrupted. Community members are also seeking assurances that this type of conduct has ended.


“The underlying emails were posted at a local online news outlet and can be read here and here

Emails Paint Picture of Covert Operations and Confusion Over Montclair Assessment Investigation

“None of the public comments at the March 14th BOE meeting or emails can be found in the NYT report of the meeting. The New York Times article does, however, contain extensive quotes from Shelley Lombard, one of the former Montclair BOE members who favored the Assessmentgate investigation. The article does not identify Ms. Lombard as a current representative of Montclair Kids First, a reform organization, represented by Shavar Jeffries, who heads DFER.


“The community now knows what the activist parents and educators suspected — that the precious resources of time, money and leadership that should have been dedicated to students, classrooms, paraprofessionals, teachers and professional development were systematically and strategically diverted into spying, surveillance, lawyers, intimidation of educators and the criminalization of dissent — all in the name of the achievement gap! What a clever, and twisted, set of tactics by corporate reformers.



“Now that these emails have surfaced, will the current “good” Board of education collude and cover up, or will they acknowledge the history of financial and ethical abuse of power in order to help the town heal and move forward?


“Will the people of Montclair receive the answers they deserve?



“Stay tuned.”