Asbury Park Principal Speaks Out: This District “Benefits Only Those With Ties to This Organized Crime Syndicate”

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This is a letter, dated today, from Reginald Mirthil, principal of Asbury Park Schools District’s Thurgood Marshall Elementary School, to his fellow Asbury Park staff members. He says he speaks for “the silent majority who are publicly misrepresented as the minority through fear and coercion,” which has resulted in “families fleeing,” “lack of an instructional program,” “disregard of the special ed population,” “manipulation of federal dollars to meet the personal needs of the gang/organized crime group,” etc. 

May 17, 2021

Dear Comrades, 

As we undergo the transition of leadership and contract negotiations, I would like to take this opportunity as the only independent labor advocate in the district of Asbury Park, New Jersey to voice concerns which I’ve collected from APSD [Asbury Park School District] staff regarding the questionable working conditions of the Asbury Park Public School system.  Though independent, I am one of few Asbury Park Administrators and teacher union members with either first-hand knowledge or have witnessed the below matters and wish to address the Asbury Park Public School’s  Kleptocratic system.   I’ve worked in the district since 2012 and cannot recall a time when politics didn’t interfere with the everyday operations to negate years of planning and progress; only benefiting the few with political ties to this organized crime syndicate/gang.   

The actions of these collective individuals have not only adversely impacted the students and families but also caused a loss of jobs, compromised AP staff’s potential for future employment and interrupted the sense of stability established in schools.  Families are fleeing not because the education is poor, we haven’t had any leadership or a plan that did not compromise the law or moral code.

I have taken on the concerns of the silent majority who are publicly misrepresented as the minority through fear and coercion.  I myself have been threatened, had obstacles placed in front of me however, despite this I continue to believe in Democracy.  I present the following which I respectfully ask all governing bodies, organization heads and the Asbury Park Board of Education to consider and publicly address during this time of transition.  

  • Lack of an instructional program.  The curricula does not drive our instructional program.  The lack of comprehension regarding the use of the program and human capital due to our leaders’ inexperience has caused a delay in services.  Our math program had been absent from our curricula however, our curricula was misrepresented to the public as fully updated.  This adversely impacted the district’s credibility as well as causing professional deficits to staff during planning and eventually evaluations.  This also ultimately caused academic setbacks to students.
  • Lack of consistent and focused strategic planning.  Our strategic planning approaches were lackluster at best.  There were no follow-up meetings.  Each year, the follow-up meetings decreased.  This year, we had perhaps two with no follow up but various changes were made to the plan.  Even our strategic goals online are obsolete. There is no apparent sense of knowledge and understanding of school leadership.  
  • The health and safety of staff is compromised through self-serving agendas.   According to the state monitor, “there were so many plans.” APSD administrators and staff were compelled to work with last minute information to address matters dealing with scheduling,  COVID and other health and safety concerns.  Staff allegedly under quarantine circulate the building while students and other staff are present.
  • Annual rotation of administrators and staff.  This breeds chaos and delays progress in schools.  There is never a transition plan for the administrators or the staff who are transferred.  With no standard operating procedures (SOP), no one knows what to expect when transferred.  It’s as though we are ‘army brats’ who travel from school to school each year; never really settling down with a work family. I’ve worked in three schools since arriving in 2012.  
  • Manipulation of federal dollars to meet the personal needs of the gang/organized crime group.  Members of the gang/organization were rewarded with administrative jobs either within Asbury Park and/or through the gang/organization’s network throughout the state by compromising the integrity of our school’s  ELL and Special Education programs.  Vice principals were taken out of the equation with no apparent plan of support.  The illusion of supervisors assuming the role was for public relations. I once had to coordinate an anonymous call DCP&P due to a young female student left unattended with several boys by two gang/organization members hired to work the program.  Those adults were allegedly absent from their duties that day.  One was allegedly working another job.  The gang/organization’s members use our copiers to run documents for their personal firms and other organizations.  Our staff has collected hundreds of evidence however, the New Jersey State Monitor and at times the board seem oblivious or worse-it’s unfounded after members of the gang have investigated.
  • Supervisors’s duties change quarterly.  This further interrupts the conditions for administrators and staff.  The unequal treatment of the supervisors is blatant.  Their job descriptions have changed to meet the needs of the gang/organization’s members.  

Some supervisors are assigned to a few students and serve in the capacity of a teacher or monitor while putting their departments’ needs second if that.Some supervisors do not address their departments’ needs or matters unless accompanied by a director.  

  • Threats of either physical harm, to individuals who are not politically aligned.
  • Timely communication.  Administrators are provided information regarding time-sensitive information a week in advance and are not permitted to share with families and staff until the day before.  
  • Use of school facilities, equipment and resources for gang/organization members’ personal use and financial benefit.   Members of the “Brighter Future Gang” have admittedly stated to myself and other witnesses that they secured jobs and positions for their prospects or other members.  Staff have witnessed the gang’s  leaders and affiliates meeting with school and central office members in plain sight.  
  • Direct interference of operations.  Gang/organization members of a central office status make decisions which counter the building leaders’ decisions or methods of operations, causing conflict among staff adding additional issues for building leadership.
  • Disregard for the ELL and Special Education population.  
  • A need for a Gifted & Talented program.  It’s unbelievable that with all of these dollars, we have not yet begun to address our G&T students.  
  • Inequities-AP staff are dismissed or non-renewed however, the gang/organization’s members alleged of the same or more heinous acts are given employment.
  • Employing gang/organization members with little or no experience in leadership positions such as the superintendent or director 
  • Violation of contractual terms and New Jersey labor statutes with no punitive recourse by the New Jersey State-appointed monitor or the Asbury Park Board members who some are allegedly, members of the gang/organization.

In Asbury Park, we have no one to go to for help.  It feels as though we are in the movie, “Get Out.” When threatened, one cannot go to the NJ State Monitor-she knows very little.  Central office administration-conducts questionable investigations.  The police-questionable. Selecting who we would “like” for the next superintendent is like choosing the next member of The Beach Boys or the O’Jays.  They’re going to be signing the ‘same ol’ song.’ 

And so will I.

Respectfully,

Reginald Mirthil

 

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