This Monday, May 8th, the Asbury Park Board of Education will re-convene for a meeting that wasn’t originally on the public meeting calendar. The reason for this meeting is that ten days ago the agenda for the regularly scheduled meeting on April 20th included lay-offs, demotions, and “increment withholdings,” which means certain staff members, identified by their ID numbers, wouldn’t get contractual annual raises due to poor performance. In response the community showed up to protest, assailing Superintendent Rashawn Adams and board members for retaliatory behavior and a failure to privilege the needs of students over the whims of administrators. “This working environment is an absolute joke,” said Asbury Park teacher union president John Napolitani. “We can only assume [this is] a corrupt act of disciplinary action.” [Full story here.]
In response the School Board voted to table the punitive action items. Thus, the May 8th meeting is necessary for the Board to comply with New Jersey law that says school districts must provide new contracts for non-tenured staff or issue written notice of non-renewal by May 15.
In an additional blow to staff and student morale, last Friday all 350 staff members employed by the district received Rice notices, a warning that the school board and Adams will be discussing lay-offs at the next meeting.
Here’s the question: After over a decade of (ineffective) state monitoring, a parade of lackluster superintendents, dropping enrollment, terrible student outcomes, and sagging morale, is the district imploding?
Staff members think this may be true.
Today the Asbury Park Press reports on the fallout from both the last board meeting and the delivery of Rice notices. Much of the animus is directed at Adams.
The community seems to agree Here are two representative comments on NJ Ed Report’s coverage:
Dr. Adams and his friends have come in recently and disrespected and humiliated respectable, hardworking dedicated professionals who have been there for there entire careers.
Mr. Adams is a cancer draining the Asbury school district. The entire district needs to just walk out pull your kids out. His ego is more important that the education of the children of Asbury Park.
The academic proficiency of Asbury Park students continues to rank near the bottom of all New Jersey districts. Among low-income districts, Asbury Park students ranked last on 2021-2022 standardized test scores: 425th of all districts in reading and 436th out of 436 districts in math. According to the Patch, Asbury Park High School students ranked last among all NJ districts on the SAT’s: an average cumulative score of 782 (304th out of 304 districts compared to the average statewide combined store of 1,117). Breaking it down, Asbury Park High School students’ average score was 387 in math (compared to the statewide average of 560) and 395 in reading (compared to the statewide average score of 557).
I worked in the Asbury Park school district 18 years ago. I was not last night’s, May 8, 2023, board of education meeting and without a doubt I can say that not only are the educators and staff in a very Hostile work environment the community is in a position of disrespect as “the public comment” section is NOT for questions and answers. If questions about the quality and effectiveness of the education of the students in Asbury Park can NOT be asked at a board meeting, Where are answers to come from? INTERVENTION from a federal/national level is needed as the state seems blissfully/willfully ignorant.
I couldn’t agree more, Phalia.