Haas, Harris, Soisson respond to HEA endorsement process

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For the first time ever, the Hillsborough Education Association (HEA) has endorsed candidates for seats on the Hillsborough Board of Education. We three incumbent candidates, in an effort to combat the slander that is being spewed by the HEA, are responding together.

The candidates endorsed by the HEA were selected through a biased process to carry out the disruptive, negative agenda of the HEA leadership. It is a blatant conflict of interest for candidates to solicit and/or accept an endorsement or anything of value from an organization that has significant business with the school district, and therefore none of the incumbent board members participated. Board members who are beholden to the teachers’ union are like foxes in a hen house; potentially making decisions based on something other than delivering an excellent education to our students or watching taxpayer dollars.

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In previous years, the HEA asked candidates to fill out a questionnaire and responses were shared with their membership and the community. This year, candidates received an invitation from an HEA Candidate Screening Committee, which was anonymous except for the chair, to complete a screening questionnaire for endorsement consideration.

While only two of the three incumbents received the HEA email, we wrote back indicating that we would answer questionnaires if complete answers were shared as in previous years; however, we could not participate in a process that led to endorsements, potentially creating serious ethical issues (real and perceived) for school board members.

The HEA ignored this, demonstrating their true motivation. Comparative information made available about all candidates benefits the public and ultimately the students; however, a non-transparent and biased process does not. The questionnaire neglected to ask any questions about candidates’ backgrounds and qualifications, which was suspect since the incumbents have many years of substantial experience (combined 84 years residence in Hillsborough, 26 years of BOE experience), training, knowledge, educational and professional accomplishment, and volunteer activities that guide our work, while the others’ backgrounds remain unknown.

Upon further research, we discovered that one of their endorsed candidates, Cindy Nurse, is the grievance chairperson of the Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association, a compensated union position, who was so unconcerned about her fellow teachers in Hillsborough that she failed to vote in the March 2019 referendum, the failure of which resulted in the loss of 56 positions.

Another endorsee, Paul Marini, ran last year and lost, and admitted to creating and bombarding the board with a slanderous letter, which resulted in unnecessary chaos in the district.

Their third candidate is Benjamin Kidd, a Hillsborough High School senior, and the bulk of his petition signatures were (HEA President) Henry Goodhue, Mrs. Goodhue, and several of Mr. Goodhue’s neighbors.

It is clear these endorsements are for the purpose of carrying the water for the HEA leadership despite the prospect that the candidates would be ethically conflicted.

To accomplish the important work of providing the best education possible in this challenging environment, it is increasingly important that members of the Board of Education are committed, knowledgeable, caring and independent thinkers. It is also important that we have the right blend of experience to assist the district in making complicated decisions.

We incumbents all have substantial and relevant records of personal, professional, and BOE accomplishment and valuable service without ethical conflicts. We are a professional educator and Hillsborough teacher for 23 years (Dr. Ann Harris, Ed.D.), a lifetime public administrator and official (Judith C. Haas), and an infectious disease expert and former HSA president (Lorraine Soisson, PhD). We are responsible and accountable to all of the residents of Hillsborough, not one interest group.

It is important to note that the BOE acts as a whole, and acts only in public.

The BOE’s accomplishments include:

● Investing in our district to ensure student achievement

● Maintaining fiscally responsible budgets focusing on community priorities, with declining state aid and increasing costs well beyond the 2% cap in salaries/benefits, transportation and special education

● Passing a facility referendum to improve our aging school buildings, to address needs far greater than our regular budget could support

● Providing early access to technology for our students, which assisted in transition to virtual learning and remains incredibly important in this pandemic

● Focusing on equity and graduating 98 percent of our students

● Expanding advanced placement and language course offerings, as well as summer course offerings

● Attempting to work collaboratively with the HEA by joining the Rutgers Labor Management Collaborative.

 

We have shown throughout our work and our lives in Hillsborough that we care deeply about the students, teachers, and the whole community. We ask that you vote for us based on our experience and our commitment.

Judith C. Haas

Ann Harris

Lorraine Soisson

Hillsborough

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