STATEMENT FROM THE MONTCLAIR EDUCATION ASSOCIATION

MONTCLAIR EDUCATION ASSOCIATION

The Montclair Education Association (MEA) reviewed the certification submitted by the Montclair
School District on March 5, 2021. Upon review of the paperwork, the association maintains the
position that student, family, and member safety are of the utmost importance.

The requests by the association have been very simple and based upon the assurances the district
provided. Prior to a return to in-­­person instruction, the district promised the MEA a report from
EI following building remediations, collaboration on a sound educational plan, and superintendent
informational meetings with each building. The follow-­­through on these items would have gone a
long way in building trust and demonstrating a desire for authentic collaboration. Unfortunately,
none of these things occurred.

Based on the district’s certification, we now know that EI did not return to Montclair before the
scheduled January return date, hence making documentation an impossibility. The certification also
demonstrates that educational plans, safety protocols, and member questions were not addressed
prior to the scheduled reopening in January. We are not assuming the failure to follow through on
these assurances was nefarious on the part of the district. After all, it is not now nor has it
ever been our goal to vilify or to be vilified. Rather we believe it is more integral to always
operate in truth.

The MEA’s return to in-­­person instruction was always predicated on safe buildings and sound
educational plans. Accusations of the association delaying a reopening in an effort to stall for
vaccines is merely false. We do encourage our members to be vaccinated now that educators are
eligible; however, that was never a premise in our discussions with the district.

The MEA is not in a “battle” with any person or entity. In fact, that type of rhetoric poisons the
public and brings us further from restoration. We were disappointed with the district’s decision to
file a lawsuit and still believe, if the district was willing to admit the remediations were never
completed, we could have worked collaboratively to resolve the issues and make the schools safe.

It is only due to the MEA standing firmly on its need to ensure safe buildings that the district
finally brought in EI in March to revisit the spaces and provide protocol and process information
to the association.

Albeit litigation was not our choice, it was worth the difficulty to assure our students’ and
staff’s safety. It also provided validation for our members, who were consistently calling
attention to the district’s lack of transparency and action. We stand by our convictions and will
continue to support and advocate for our students, families, and members moving forward.

The MEA is an inclusive union representing more than 1,000 educators employed by the Montclair
Board of Education, including teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians, security staff, nurses,
secretaries,
buildings, and grounds staff and technical personnel.

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