Rachel Goldberg, one of three candidates for Montclair’s superintendent position, speaks during a candidates’ forum at Montclair High School in February. ERIN ROLL/STAFF

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

The Montclair Board of Education issued a response Wednesday night to reports that two of the three candidates for superintendent had withdrawn their names from consideration.

In a prepared statement, BOE President Laura Hertzog disputed some of the details that had been presented in local media following the news that Ross Kasun and Rachel Goldberg had removed themselves from the search process, leaving Kendra Johnson — currently Montclair’s assistant superintendent for equity, curriculum and instruction — as the lone remaining candidate.

However, Hertzog’s statement did not dispute that any of the candidates had withdrawn.

Hertzog added that the board had chosen a candidate that they deemed to be the best fit for the position, but that person was not identified by name.

“The majority of the board has carefully chosen a superintendent candidate that they have determined to be the finalist who will provide the leadership consistency and continue the educational excellence that the students of Montclair so deserve,” Hertzog said. “This person was identified as the lead candidate prior to the withdrawal of any other candidate.”

In her statement, Hertzog referred to an article that had appeared on a local news site on Tuesday that, she said, contained multiple inaccuracies. She also said that the BOE had not been asked for comment before that article was published. “We regret that for whatever reason, inaccurate information was conveyed to the public, and hope that this serves to correct the record.”

On Wednesday afternoon Hertzog told Montclair Local that she would be making a statement on the superintendent search that night at the meeting.

Goldberg, presently the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Passaic, told the Montclair Local Wednesday that she had withdrawn her name from the superintendent search on March 6. She said that she made the decision to do so after being informed that the board would likely not make a decision on the candidates until late March.

Kasun, the superintendent for the Freehold public schools, confirmed earlier this week that he had withdrawn.

Hertzog said that she had been advised that no one had informed the candidates that “the BOE would not be ready to make a decision anytime soon.” Furthermore, “No candidate dropped out of consideration on Feb. 27. Any withdrawals took place this month, during board deliberations.”

When asked on Thursday about the apparent discrepancy between the candidates’ statements to the media and her own statement at the BOE meeting, Hertzog said that she could not speak to what either of the candidates had said.

The district has been without a full-time superintendent since 2015. Current interim superintendent Barbara Pinsak has been with the district since March 2017.

At a Q&A forum on March 9, Mayor Robert Jackson told members of the media that he preferred that the BOE hire a candidate who had prior experience as a superintendent. Kasun was the only one of the three candidates who had that experience.

The candidates in the superintendent search were being screened by the search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates. HYA spokesperson Therese Meyer declined to comment on the matter Wednesday afternoon, referring media inquiries back to the Montclair school administration.

This is a developing story. Follow the Montclair Local for more information.