The following is a letter sent by Patricia Morgan of JerseyCAN and Shelley Skinner of Better Education for Kids to Senator Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), Chair of the State Senate Education Committee, regarding two videos released last week. The first (below) features the President of the Hamilton Education Association and the second (below that) features the President of the Union City Education Association. Both expose what Morgan and Skinner describe as a teacher disciplinary system “vulnerable to manipulation” that puts children at risk.
May 4, 2018
Senate Education Chairwoman Teresa Ruiz
Dear Senator Ruiz,
We are writing with deep concern over two videos released this week involving local teacher union presidents.
On May 2, 2018, a video was released of Hamilton Township Education Association President David Perry, in which he states that “I need to know the truth so I can bend the truth.” On May 3, 2018, a second video surfaced of Union City Education Association President Kathleen Valencia, in which she flippantly explains that a teacher who had sex with a student was only facing the loss of his o her pension. While one would hope that these are isolated incidents, it is difficult to ignore the striking similarities between the two videos — counseling the parties to minimize the alleged altercations; suggesting the misrepresentation of the underlying factual information in the incidents; and counseling that no one should be told about the incidents, even after receiving facts that a student may have been physically harmed.
These videos raise an important question as to whether the current teacher disciplinary system is vulnerable to manipulation and whether our students are being educated in a safe and fair environment. These videos highlight that there may be weaknesses in teacher disciplinary procedures that unethical insiders can exploit to protect teachers accused of wrongdoing. In light of these videos, we respectfully request that you hold legislative hearings to investigate the disciplinary process for ethical standards to which those serving our children must be held. These hearings could be a useful tool to expose legislative changes that might be necessary to strengthen our system and protect the welfare of our schoolchildren.’
Guaranteeing our children are in a safe, healthy, educationally stimulating environment when they attend school is of utmost importance. Thank you for your consideration of hosting a hearing that examines the State’s procedures around this matter.
Very truly yours,
Patricia Morgan, Executive Director, JerseyCAN
Shelley Skinner, Executive Director, Better Education for Kids