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Montclair NAACP
NEIL GRABOWSKY/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL Albert Pelham, president of the Montclair NAACP, told Montclair Local that the organization will not call for Interim Superintendent Nathan Parker to step down.

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

Following a request by a group of parents for the resignation of Interim Schools Superintendent Nathan Parker, the Montclair NAACP will not follow suit.

Albert Pelham, the president of the Montclair NAACP branch, told Montclair Local that during an executive committee meeting held Thursday, Jan. 23, the organization opted not to call on Parker to resign or be removed as interim superintendent.

Parker has come under fire for comments centering around district hiring practices at an October NAACP Education Committee.

June Raegner, listed as assistant secretary for the NAACP, who was present at the fall NAACP meeting where Parker’s comments were made, has accused the interim superintendent of saying he does not mind if a teacher is “racist,” as long as they keep their attitudes out of the classroom.

Pelham said no audio recordings or minutes exist of that meeting, nor of a subsequent meeting in December at which Parker attempted to explain his remarks. Pelham was not at the meeting, which was overseen by James Harris who was recently suspended for six months after making anti-Semitic remarks at a community meeting.

At the Jan. 22 BOE meeting, a group of parents and community advocates called for the removal of Parker.

Parker has said that his remarks have been taken out of context. During the Jan. 22 Board of Education meeting, Parker claimed that his remarks had been intended to refer to the presence of bias in an educational environment, and how it can be reduced through professional development and other means.

The BOE meeting was adjourned by the board following a heated exchange between parents and board members.

The NAACP meeting held on Jan. 23 consisted of executive officers who are also involved with the education sub-committee, Pelham said. Harris and Raegner were among the members participating in the vote.

The group is attempting to gather sign-in sheets to see who attended the October meeting.

“While the NAACP has concerns about the alleged comments by Superintendent Parker, we have tremendous amount of respect of the leadership of the Board of Education and the NAACP would support whatever action the BOE wished to take regarding Parker. At this time, we are encouraging the Montclair BOE to continue their search for a new superintendent with all appropriate urgency,” Pelham said.

Pelham said the school district has gone through too many interims, with Parker being the seventh in seven years. He said the Montclair NAACP is willing to play a role in the search for a new superintendent.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include the participants in the vote. 

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