A MESSAGE ON BEHALF OF CHIEF OF STAFF KELLIE LEDET
Dear NJDOE Employees:
This Sunday, February 23rd at 11:00 a.m. Commissioner Repollet will be speaking at Saint James AME Church in Newark as part of a special Greek/Pan-Hellenic Sunday program. Congregation members who are also members of the “Divine 9” have been invited to attend the service wearing their Greek paraphernalia, and they have encouraged us to extend this invitation to members of the NJDOE staff as well.
If you are a member of a “Divine 9” organization and will be in Newark this Sunday, please join us wearing your Greek paraphernalia.
What you see above is a memo from New Jersey Department of Education Chief of Staff Kellie Ledet that went out to all personnel on Friday at 2:58 pm. (My sources are nothing if not specific.) Several DOE staff members contacted me to express that they felt surprised and offended that they were being directed to attend a religious service. Another felt belittled by the reference to the “Divine 9,” a reference to a group of African-American college fraternities often privileged by Commissioner Lamont Repollet.
Example: As I posted here, while Superintendent of Asbury Park Public Schools, Repollet organized a trip to Ghana which he tried to bill to a federal funding stream called 21st Century Funds that is earmarked for enrichment activities for low-income students. Only one problem: According to sources, at least 28 adults attended and only 2 Asbury Park Public School students. Also, the highlight of the trip was the “enstoolment” of Repollet as a Ghanian king.
And at least some of those attendees were members of the “Divine 9.”
This trip was celebrated on the Monmouth County Pan-Hellenic Council website on the page called Members of the Divine 9 Journey to Ghana, “Welcome to the Enstoolment Ceremony of Sigma Brother Dr. Lamont Repollet! Kudos to the outstanding job he has done to promote the Asbury School District throughout the state of New Jersey, nationally and now internationally! Congratulations Brother Nana Dr. Lamont Repollet on your accomplishments and your new role as Chief of Education for the village of Abram Agona Ghana!”
Is it appropriate to pressure employees of a state department to attend a religious ceremony that highlights a particular fraternity? Or was the memo just a friendly gesture? You make the call.