Sussex County Freeholders Oppose State Board of Education Standards Imposed on Sex Education in
(Newton, NJ) The members of Sussex County’s Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously
opposed via a resolution the State Board of Education’s revised sex education standards during
their meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 23.
The Freeholder resolution emphasized the role of a child’s parents or guardians, even after a child
begins receiving formal education outside of their home, in providing valuable support and guidance
in a child’s education. The resolution stated the revised standards, adopted by New Jersey’s
Department of Education on June 3, interfere with a parent’s rights to teach their own children
“about these sensitive matters in a manner that comports with their core family values and
beliefs.” The resolution cited the standards promote “age-inappropriate sexual content which usurps
a parent’s ability to determine whether a child is emotionally and intellectually prepared for
instruction in sex education.”
Sussex County Freeholder Director Sylvia Petillo thanked New Jersey State Senators Steve Oroho,
R-24th Dist. and Mike Testa, R-1st Dist., for introducing their own resolution objecting to the new standards. Petillo said the decision-making about when to teach children, some
who may not have the maturity levels yet to understand sensitive sexual topics, should be left to
their parents or guardians, with the latest standards de-emphasizing the role of parents.
“It is extremely important that parental rights are respected and included in all sectors of
education in our public schools,” Petillo said.
Freeholder Joshua Hertzberg agreed that it is a parent’s right and responsibility to teach these
sensitive topics to their own children and that he has learned of more parents in the community
gravitating toward private schools, to regain their right to teach their own children these
In other business:
• At the start of their meeting, the Freeholders unanimously tabled their resolution opposing
an amendment in New Jersey’s Constitution to legalize recreational cannabis or marijuana,
to tighten the language in the Freeholder resolution. In addition to removal of language to
encourage voters to vote “no” on this 2020 ballot question, Hertzberg, who proposed tabling the
resolution, said language should be added to focus on the costs of social services, policing and
the taxes involved with the proposed legalization of recreational marijuana.
• Freeholder Anthony Fasano emphasized that in spite of the Freeholders’ efforts to push against
exclusive vote-by-mail ballots, Sussex County is prepared for the vote- by-mail election. Fasano
said that following an incident that occurred a couple of weeks ago when approximately 1,600
uncounted ballots were discovered at the independently operating and bi-partisan Sussex County Board of Elections – an outcome that has now
been remedied with a count and certification of the ballots and has not changed the outcome of
election results – the Board of Elections has released its improvement plan for ballot
counting procedures. Hertzberg commented that Governor Phil Murphy’s Executive Orders mandating
exclusive mail-in-ballots has placed Election officials and volunteers in a position to
fail. Hertzberg said he believes that Sussex County will be one of the safest places to vote
statewide, as a result of these procedures. Fasano said the Sussex County Clerk’s Office will be
providing more information to the public about methods of voting in the upcoming election, via
mail, news articles and a radio campaign. All ballots, Fasano said, will be mailed to voters
by the County Clerk’s Office by Monday, Oct. 5. Fasano said voters can choose how to return
their ballots, whether it is by dropping ballots off in person to their assigned polling place, by
depositing it in one of the 11 secure drop boxes stationed throughout the county, by
hand delivering it to the Board of Elections or by mail. For questions, Fasano said voters should
call: 973-579-1900, extension 1507.
• Freeholder Herbert Yardley addressed a bill proposed by Senator Bob Smith, D- 17th Dist.,
which involves permitting New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities to establish a utility by
solar energy program, allowing the clear-cutting of forests and farmland for solar panels. Yardley
said he will have further information about the legislation for an upcoming meeting.
• Yardley also addressed the Senate Republicans’ recent petition urging movement on the bill to
launch an investigation the more than 7,000 nursing home deaths from COVID-19. During the meeting,
Yardley asked county counsel for an update on the Open Public Records Act requests sent to the
State Department of Health about the issues at Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation I and II, for
which the state has asked for several extensions for the information, requested by the County in
• Sussex County Deputy Freeholder Director Dawn Fantasia addressed a letter the Freeholders
received from the Sussex County Superintendents’ Roundtable Association, signed by all the
school superintendents in the county. The letter stated the schools have been faced with a
lack of clear guidance from New Jersey’s Department of Education and Department of Health.
Information the school districts have received from the State about reopening with the COVID-19
guidelines, the letter stated, has been described as inadequate, inaccurate and not timely,
• Fantasia said she spoke with Warren County Freeholder Deputy Director James R. Kern III in
support of his Sept. 18 letter to Board of Public Utilities President Joseph Fiordaliso, asking the
Board of Public Utilities to delay its vote on a proposed rate increase for First Energy’s Jersey
Central Power & Light. Kern asked for a study of Northwest New Jersey prior to a potential
increase, because of the rise and duration of power outages in the region.
• Petillo said that Gov. Phil Murphy should move into phase three of his reopening plan for
the State’s businesses and churches, something she thought he would have done the week prior but did not. She focused on the Governor’s quote from the pandemic’s
start, “We are going to move deliberately based on data, we have to move forward based on facts,
together we’ll get to the end of this journey stronger than ever.” “If the Governor truly wants
this state to become stronger then he must open businesses so they can become financially
stable,” Petillo said. “The Governor needs to commit to stage three in his recovery plan and
begin to bring relief to our businesses and our churches.” Petillo called the 25 percent capacity
the Governor has imposed on businesses and churches “not enough to survive.” She especially
addressed concerns for business survival as the weather cools and individuals will not be going out
to eat, with outdoor dining still the primary way many eateries are surviving. She said if the
Governor would like the state to survive, he needs to allow businesses to fully reopen in order to
become more financially stable and to bring relief to businesses and churches.
• The Freeholders took part in a presentation of a scholarship to resident Savana Brogan, who
received it from the National Association of Counties in the amount of
$2,500. Brogan’s winning essay for the scholarship was chosen out of 600 contenders in
the Eastern region of the United States, focusing on how she would practice sound economic
stewardship throughout her lifetime.
• For the full audio of the Freeholder meeting, go