There were presentations by Montclair School District staff during the April 12 Montclair Board of Education meeting about equity and special education.

Equity is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “freedom from bias or favoritism.”

It is an ideal that educators such as those who work in the Montclair School District strive for every day.

A presentation about equity in education was given during the April 12 Montclair Board of Education meeting by Kendra Johnson, the Montclair School District’s assistant superintendent for equity. 

Johnson, in her half-hour presentation, addressed various topics, from creating culturally responsive training for all new teachers to Identifying a funding source for district equity work.

She pointed out that the district’s focus on equity, access, and opportunity comes out of the findings of the Montclair Achievement Gap Advisory Panel back in June 2015.

Johnson then spoke about what it means to focus on equity in the school system.

“Educational equity is looking at personal as well as societal circumstances and ensuring that they are not obstacles in the educational potential of all of our students,” Johnson said.

When her presentation, Johnson received loud applause from the audience, and praise from BOE members along with questions.

BOE member Joe Kavesh asked Johnson whether closing the achievement gap in the Montclair public schools will still be an issue in the year 2037.

Johnson answered: “I would hope not, but the reality is that’s going to depend on how committed you are to doing the work. This is hard work.”

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Talking special education

Another presentation was given during the BOE meeting, the topic being special education.

Nicholas Del Re, Jennifer Finnerty, and Rebecca Ross, all of whom serve as supervisors of special education for the district, took turns giving an overview of special education in Montclair’s public schools as well as the work of their department.

Among the information given was that there are 1,225 special education students in the district, who represent about 17.8 percent of all enrolled students, and that 408 of them are classified as “Other Health Impaired,” while 295 are classified with “Specific Learning Disability.”

Del Re spoke about one of the key responsibilities of special education in the district.

“We have an obligation to prepare our students for life beyond Montclair and the Montclair public school district,” Del Re said.

Finnerty said one…