Asbury Park Acting Superintendent and Teacher Union President Respond to NJ Education Report Article

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Late last week Asbury Park Schools District Acting Superintendent Dr. Rashawn Adams posted on Twitter and Instagram a response to a NJ Education Report article describing the school district’s opening day. The piece from this news platform was based on reports from multiple sources within the district who wish to remain anonymous. In his social media responses, Adams accuses the sources and the article itself of being “racist” and “disgruntal [sic].”

Also, late Friday Asbury Park Education Association President John Napolitani sent out an email to all staff which was forwarded to NJ Ed Report by five staff members. In this letter (printed in full below), Napolitani says neither the local teachers union nor NJEA “condone” NJ Ed Report’s articles because they “put a bad stain on our district” and “it’s sad it’s come down to anonymous information because some people are frustrated.” He confirms the problems itemized in the NJER article –“I am fully aware that many schedules have issues”–and says that leaders of the state teachers union have advised that he “try to sit down with the Acting Superintendent” but Adams declined the invitation. He adds, “As some have asked me why this wasn’t done over the summer, my answer is a simple I have no clue.”

Napolitani also writes, “someone asked me the other day why people would be afraid to speak up. Basically it’s because staff are afraid of retaliation…It’s sad when we are grown adults and concerned about being punished for trying to make sure the children are properly educated.”

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Email from Asbury Park Education Association President John Napolitani to Asbury Park staff members:

Good Afternoon,

As we start the new year and end our first week of school, I want to wish every one the best year possible. I was remiss in my speech the other day when I shouted out the staff who got us up and running this year and forgot to mention our teachers, paras and other support staff who did a phenomenal job over the past 18 months under very challenging circumstances. Remember this, everyone in the district received a paycheck because they worked and earned it.

Now I am fully aware that many schedules have issues. NJEA advised we reach out to the Acting Superintendent and attempt to sit down and discuss these matters. As per the Acting Superintendent’s directive in writing to me, as opposed to sitting down to discuss all the scheduling issues, he advised that you please forward these concerns to your building administrator. In other words, just worry about having your contractual prep and lunch as stated in the email and do not worry about whether or not a student has the proper time in class. I also know some of the principals have been working hard to try to get these corrected. I spoke to Laura Schetlick who advised me she has to work on the high school and middle school first and then can get to the elementary schools. As some have asked me why this wasn’t done over the summer, my answer is a simple I have no clue.

Next, some staff have asked me about vaccinations the last few days and what if they get sick from receiving it at school. If you’re sick, you need to stay home because this is why we have contractual sick days. I was invited to a meeting with the Acting Superintendent next week to discuss the October 17 deadline for vaccinations and testing. This is an issue I have been on top of since the summer. The latest information I received from NJEA is that there is a specific place we can utilize for testing that will be covered for the staff at no cost. There’s a deadline on this so I am sure the Acting Super already knows this and it’s my hope he will choose that route. But remember, he’s the Acting superintendent and will make the ultimate decision.

Finally, I stated we need all staff to stick and work together this year. We should not be afraid to speak up about the inequities and issues in the schedules, district, etc that we feel are necessary to make us successful. Someone asked me the other day why people would be afraid to speak up. Basically it’s because staff are afraid of retaliation. I guess based on moves of certain staff, this statement is probably true but we still have to be steadfast in what we think is right, even it’s uncomfortable. It’s sad when we are grown adults and concerned about being punished for trying to make sure the children are properly educated. Remember, we’re all still an adults and should be treated as such.

In closing, there have been several posts by a blogger over the last year or so in regard to Asbury Park. Please know that the APEA nor the NJEA condone these blogs. They are being forwarded to NJEA as well. Unfortunately, some of these blogs put a bad stain on our district. It’s sad that it’s come down to anonymous information to someone because some people are frustrated in the district. Believe me, I have many staff contacting me in regard to their frustration. I have always tried to work though the issues here for all the staff and students, and have worked with administration, even during disagreements. For several years it has been a two way street and a collaborative effort on both sides and one of mutual respect. This is something I will continue to do as long as I’m on this two way street.

Please try and have a great weekend and put school behind you for a couple of days. It was a very trying week and I know it will get better as we move forward.

In Solidarity,

John Napolitani
President

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