July 14, 2020 – The South Orange and Maplewood School District Board of Education is pleased to announce a resolution of its federal court litigation with the Black Parents Workshop (BPW) over racial access and equity in the South Orange and Maplewood School District, which was approved at the District’s last Board meeting on Monday, July 13, 2020.
Through good faith discussions, the parties have reached a settlement that recognizes the strides the District has already made under the leadership of Superintendent, Ronald G. Taylor, while incorporating proposals for further improvement offered by BPW. The Board also recognizes the efforts of former Interim Superintendent Thomas Ficarra, for his work in facilitating the District’s $160M construction project that was approved by the Board of School Estimate, which will ultimately support the realization of the recently Board approved Intentional Integration Framework.
According to Superintendent Taylor, “We welcome the opportunity to put this litigation behind us and move forward together as a District and community, working to live our creed of service and to truly embody our mission to empower and inspire each student to explore and imagine, to pursue personal passions, and to collectively create a better future.”
Under the terms of a formal settlement agreement approved by the Board on July 13th, the District will implement recommendations to be developed by Dr. Edward Fergus of Temple University, a nationally renowned expert who has been consulting with the District since 2018. To promote public confidence, transparency and accountability, implementation of Dr. Fergus’s recommendations will be monitored by former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice John Wallace, Jr., who is universally respected in the legal community.
“The board voted unanimously to approve this settlement as it helps us move closer to delivering upon the as yet unrealized promise of the access and equity policy passed in 2015,” said Board president, Annemarie Maini. She continued, “As was clear over the past few days of board retreats, we all share the commitment to ensuring that all students feel welcomed and receive the supports (academic and social emotional) that they need to get closer to actualizing our district’s mission statement.”
The District has already taken steps to increase diversity in its administrative leadership and will continue to ramp up its efforts to encourage minority applicants for teaching positions in the District. In addition, data regarding course enrollment and student disciplinary actions will be shared with the public on a regular basis.
The Board looks forward to moving forward to fulfill the promise of the District’s Access and Equity Policy and improve educational opportunities and outcomes for our African-American students.