GLEN ROCK, NJ – It was a formality. That’s a summary of the Board of Education’s response to teachers and parents who were “unnerved” by the district-wide issuing of a Rice Notice, which notifies staff members they may be discussed during a board meeting.
The BOE statement, released on Sunday afternoon, was in response to information circulating on social media about the entirety of the teaching staff receiving Rice Notices. Some feared all teachers in the district may be terminated, which applied to some of those who received the notices, but not all.
But for district teachers, it was just more of the same that has been going on for about two years, which is about the time superintendent Dr. Brett Charleston was hired.
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“We hate what’s going on,” President of the Glen Rock Education Association Jim Fink said late Sunday afternoon. “We had an award-winning district, and he’s tried to come in here and radically change it.”
Fink said the education community of Glen Rock was told a “foundational lie,” and that was Charleston was hired to “help teachers.”
But all that has occurred is a “toxic workplace,” he said. “We’re not sure why the Board of Education felt we needed changing.”
The BOE called the information circulating on social media “misinformation,” and stated “it is unfortunate there are some who continue to post confidential information without the necessary context which causes confusion and unnecessary anxiety and stress within the community.”
“On Friday, every employee of the Glen Rock School District received a Rice Notice,” the letter stated. “This was not limited to teaching staff, but rather encompassed the entire district, including the superintendent.”
The BOE stated the email was sent by Laurie Babin, on behalf of Dr. Brett Charleston, the superintendent.
The email stated, “As part of our year-end review, all employees, including administrators and central office employees, are receiving the attached Rice Notice for the April 26, 2021 Board of Education meeting.”
The board described a Rice Notice as follows: “a notification from the district to an employee stating the employee may be discussed in an upcoming meeting. The purpose of the notification is to ensure that the employee is aware of any potential discussion so that he or she is afforded the opportunity to exercise the right to have that discussion in the public portion of the meeting, rather than in closed session. An employee cannot be discussed, in any capacity, without a proper Rice Notice, and so the notification, required by statute, is designed to provide full transparency and to ensure that the employee is aware of their rights.”
“While the district felt the above explanation for the Rice Notice was clear,” the statement reads, “we acknowledge that some staff were unnerved by this. For that we apologize and will make sure future communication is clearly articulated. Please note that, in keeping with state statute, the distribution of Rice notifications will be the procedure going forward for end of year personnel review.”
The board then addressed nonrenewal of staff, stating that information is “strictly confidential,” and therefore, cannot be discussed, although they stated such staff members are “still employed and bound by the terms of the contract for the duration of the current school year.”
When asked via email to comment on the matter, Charleston deferred to the Board of Education’s Sunday statement.
The Rice Notice is for 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 26. Link to attend meeting via Zoom.