Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Board of Ed: Obama Academy disarray; Bailey redux?; Renata a stomper?

Some of the Grand SLAM team's campaign promises.

So, in a little more than ninety days, Plainfield's Board of Ed seems to have gone from a hopeful post-Gallon future to disarray on several fronts.


More than a month after the end of the school year -- when Barack Obama Academy students knew only that they would not be returning to their building in September -- the Board of Ed and the CSA have yet to clarify the situation for the public.

Rumors abound. What can you expect? (Though Maria Pellum pointed out on her blog, see here, that since confirmation came from the ex-principal's own mouth, it was hardly rumor.)

It is understandable that budgetary constraints may cause changes. But there is no excuse for PLODDING.

Is the Academy being abolished outright? Relocated yet again? (Thrown out of nice digs on West Front Street to be put back in the old Lincoln School this past year, wherever would they get the idea they are second-class students within the District?) Why hadn't there been a plan in place by the end of the school year? Why hadn't staff been informed instead of being moved around like checkers on a board? Why have students, parents and community had to wait until the Courier does a story (see here) to find out that an 'informational meeting' is -- now that there's been a public fuss? -- planned for August 4?

What can be more important than the kids, INCLUDING THESE STUDENTS who cannot thrive in the conventional classroom setting yet which the District has an obligation to give an equal education?

This apparent lack of planning and professionalism does not inspire the confidence of the PRINCIPAL STAKEHOLDERS -- the taxpayers -- who must foot the bill for all the dithering.


The Board of Ed has scheduled THREE special meetings for this week -- tonight, Wednesday, AND Thursday -- for personnel and legal matters, per notices on the District website (here, here, and here, all PDFs).

Rumor has it (what else is there?) that at least some of the time in these three special meetings will be devoted to filling two posts: Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services (see job listing as posted online by Maria here) and a personnel director.

Rumor, again, has it that Dr. Garnell Bailey is being considered -- yet again -- for one of the positions. Bailey resigned her Plainfield job to go to Pleasantville; after less than six months she is back in the job market. Why?

As I wrote on this subject last month (see here) --

...[a] move to reinstall Dr. Bailey would indicate the abandonment of the SLAM team's campaign language of cleaning up the situation with the schools....
Dr. Bailey is identified too much with the mess under Dr. Gallon, as well as (based on a close reading of the OFAC report -- see here, PDF) questionable performance as HR director.

The Board of Ed needs to affirm a commitment to capable administration, free of the taint of the Gallon era, and stop being the employer-of-last-resort for old hometown chums.

To be clear, the (re)hiring of Dr. Bailey would be a signal that the SLAM team's great campaign talk of getting to a post-Gallon, progressive place for the Board of Ed was just that -- campaign talk.


As a blogger, I would like to think there were many who voted for the SLAM team as a result of following Renata Hernandez' posts on her blog in the run-up to the April school board elections (see archives here for February, March and April).

After taking a break, she came back with a new blog, Standing in the Gap (see here), with the following mission statement --

...SERVICE is an honorable charge in a sometimes dishonorable and uncivilized atmosphere. It's thankless, and tiresome! BUT for the sake of this city's children and their FUTURE -- I shall serve and serve with my whole heart. I shall "Stand in the Gap" until the educational system in this fair city provides for the edification, preparation and self-actualization of each and every student in Plainfield Public Schools...
One has to ask an obvious question: How does the 'dishonorable and uncivilized atmosphere' of the current public comment (including the blogs) about the Board of Ed against which Renata has railed recently in her blog posts differ from the kinds of posts she herself put up for all the world to see when she was a candidate for the very same board?

In particular, what about the two blog posts of last Friday (7/23) which Renata took down within hours of having put them up.

One concerned Olddoc (see a Google cached copy here), in which Renata refers to the venerable Dr. Yood as --

  • a 'blood sucking perp'

  • whose 'constant berating is uncivilized not to mention severely uninformed',

  • tells him 'it is not enough to provide amateur commentary without being responsible for [his] words', and says she

  • 'will no longer excuse [his] rudeness'..
As for the second post, it was on the same day (see here) and was about Laura Shoemaker, a concerned resident and former District employee (CORRECTION: Laura advises she was never an employee) who was one of the first to expose the Gallon mess.

Renata evidently takes something written by Shoemaker elsewhere (to the NJ forums?), cut-and-pasted into the Standing in the Gap blog, with Renata's comments interspersed in yellow highlighter.

Among other things, Shoemaker offered this opinion --

...To Renata: What is so disturbing to me is that you advocated for transparency all during your campaign. Who is the one who isn't transparent now? You preach that YOU are doing this, and YOU are doing that. Sorry, but I think the "power trip" has gotten to your head. As a board member, you are supposed to listen to the communities concerns, not berate them...
After calling Shoemaker ASININE (or is that ASSININE, which Renata also uses?), and asking whether Shoemaker 'will sell her home and donate [the] funds' to get the Barack Obama gym fixed, Renata opines that 'one afternoon eating grapes and cheese' or 'going out for burgers does not a FRIEND make'...

While this may be true, great friendships have gotten started with less.

So, Renata gave Olddoc and Laura the back of her hand. Take that, and that!

Oops! Did anybody see that? Can I take it back?

If I take the posts down will nobody know?

The sad part is how unscriptural Renata's process is (Renata will be the first to tell you she is a Christian).

Here are some suggestions from Scripture about how believers should handle themselves --

  • Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to wrath. (Hebrews 12:14; James 1:19)

  • If your brother or sister offends you, go to them in private and try gently to resolve the matter. (Matthew 18:15; Galatians 6:1)

  • Don't repay evil for evil or insult with insult. Instead, respond with a blessing. (Matthew 5: 39-40; 1 Peter 3:9; Romans 12:17, 21)

  • You will be judged in the same way you judge others. (Matthew 7:1-2)
Will Renata learn to accept that the public -- all of them -- have A RIGHT to kibitz, kvetch or comment, even if they don't participate to the level she expects?

The taxpayers, of whom Dr. Yood and Ms. Shoemaker are representatives, are the PRIMARY STAKEHOLDERS in the public education system as they foot the bills, and they elect the Board.

When do they get their respect?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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When They GIVE IT!

Anonymous said...


I was never an employee of PPS, just a concerned city resident.


Anonymous said...

The lesson that never seems to be learned by either the BOE or the city administration is that they both need professional full-time media reps.

Yeah, I know some will surly howl about the 50-75K a year costs, but both bodies make so many mistakes the cost must surely be worth it even if the value is hard to quantify.

At least the city seems to be successful in having all of the principal players keep their mouths shut regardless of the provocation.

Anonymous said...

To RASRAHMATAZ (the online alter ego of the elected Plainfield Board of Education Member Renata Hernandez)

When you EARN IT!

Anonymous said...


Regardless of your description of the "mess" under Gallon, the certification issue which involved many longstanding employees of which some say topped 30, the district was on the right track.

We are now witnessing and as you have now pointed out that the politics and back-door dealing of PPS is not about Gallon but those who will basically lie, cheat and maim to maintain the status quo. I would take the two or so Gallon gaffes over what I am seeing in the district now under the new mamagemt cause it sure ain't leadership.

The chicanery with Bailey is deplorable and the handling of the school closing shows outright incompetence and disregard for the students and their parents.

We have those who voted for the Grand Slam headed by Wilma Campbell to thank for this disaster created in less than 90 days.

Anonymous said...

Dan this is terrible my GOD when are we going to have board member's who have the children best interest at heart. Mrs Campbell could care less she never had any of her children in the school district. This is just one big ole mess. Everyone is forgetting the main issue and that is we are laying off teacher's who directly impact the classroom. My GOD please help the children if you don't no one will

Anonymous said...

I know this board of education would never allow Bailey to return to the plainfield school district. I know this is just a rumor. There is just too much baggage with her. She have messed-up the district, the human resources department under watch is still under investigation. I know this is not true

Anonymous said...

When will the people in this city learn that the leaders (BOE and Mayor) are not smart people who know how to run things. This is not to say they are not good people (although Renata and her comments are surprising to me), but they have no clue how to manage or run a government. Close down the school, send the kids to other schools where they have a chance to make a life for themselves. We are yet again ruining kids lives.

Also, I would like to know how many of the BOE have or had their children attend the Plainfield Public Schools.

Anonymous said...

To July 27 @ 11:10AM . . .

Let's not blame Wilma Campbell, Keisha Edwards or the other Grand Slam candidate (sorry forgot his name)for Renata's comments. Even though they campaigned as a team -they were on the ballot as individual candidates.

However . . . if Bailey returns . . . this may ruin it for Keisha Edwards campaign to be re-elected.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 11:10,

I will gladly take Gallon back instead of what we are seeing here. Was he perfect, no? Did he make mistakes, sure? The work he did in the district was beneficial to students and placed pressure on adults. That was the problem.

PPS for years has been an employment agency and public coffer for many in Plainfield. Dr. Gallon never got with the program and was demonized by the power structure.

Many of us on the sidelines knew that this was never about certification of staff. It was about getting rid of Gallon. Bailey was the key along with many district staff.

How do you elect Hernandez, Abdull Haqq, and an unknown Edwards over Estevez, Cox, Pyle, Burwinkle, Tucker, and many of the other more positive candidates?

You run on a platform to get rid of an embattled superintendent and protect jobs in a district with a nearly $10 million dollar deficit.

The people of Plainfield are now seeing in less than three months how they have been deceived.

Tom said...

This truly amazing and this helps educate our children?

Anonymous said...

Hey NewUser -- I don't need yours.

Thanks anyway though.

Rob said...

I look at it this want to be treated like trash, act like it.

Anonymous said...

Renata Hernandez? She needs help. Serious help.

She is a total embarrassment to the entire city.

Anonymous said...

The Grand Slam has STRUCK OUT.

Anonymous said...


Let's not pretend that Campbell, Edwards, and Abdull-Haqq are not a part of the problem. They have helped force numerous employees down the districts throat in the past few months. Many of these employees helped with their campaign.

How do you justify a $100K a year marketing person with NO certificate, experience or even a master's degree.

You justify because he helped print flyers and supported your campaign. Bailey also campaigned openly for the Grand Slam team.

The only one who may stand up is Abdull Haqq because he did not go along with the first Bailey attempt

Sorry, none of them are clear of this. Renata's behavior just shows the public how much they struck out with this group.

Anonymous said...

Renata Hernandez comes off as very childish and unprofessional. Dealing with criticism in an adult way is part of the job. What a shame that she influences the education of so many children. Surely we can do better.


Renata Hernandez is just fine.

Anonymous said...

Obviously there is a problem with an elected school board of people with questionable intentions. Maybe this is not the way to run public schools?

Anonymous said...

Bailey is under investigation for her involvement with PMUA.

Why would the board even consider bringing back such a person?

Anonymous said...

9:30 p.m. is correct,

Bailey and several others in HR are being investigated for receiving payments from PMUA during work hours. That is considered theft of time.

The shoe is going to drop very soon on Bailey and her comrades in HR.

The board of ed would be crazy to even consider hiring her in light of the PMUA matter, Pleasantville fiasco and Plainfield mess.