Fresh face, powerful voice

Most of us can recognize the faces who regularly attend public meetings, especially those who get up to the mic.  The speakers we know (the 'regulars')  are activists or political partisans or advocates/objectors for a particular agenda item.

So it's refreshing to see a Hoboken resident who is none-of-the-above, speaking at a meeting for the first time though not particularly comfortable with public speaking.  Most of us aren't.

GA was very impressed with the eloquence of this Hoboken district mom, who spoke for many Hoboken district families on March 8, 2016 at the Hoboken School Board  meeting.  Here is the video, and below a transcription (if you prefer to read.)

"My family is relatively new to Hoboken. We moved here less than 3 years ago and were uncertain about the reputation of the schools. But to our delight, our boys have flourished in the public pre-k and district schools. We have met the most wonderful families and kids along the way and as they have moved onto different schools, we have wished nothing but the best for them and their families.

And so we felt very ambivalent about the lawsuit between the district and a local charter school. We felt uncomfortable about the political and financial costs, the silence from civic leaders and the impact on local elections.

But lately, I have felt troubled by the political gaming outside and inside this board and so I decided to read up on the issues and here is what I learned:

At the heart of this case, a charter school asked the state for permission to renew and expand its charter. The school has the burden to show that this would not exacerbate segregation in the district. Segregative effect is essentially a civil rights question. It’s a legal question and I believe we need the courts to help us figure this out:

Here are 3 reasons why:

1.) As residents, we should be interested in whether public monies provide equal educational opportunities to students regardless of race, income or status.

2.) As a former Abbott district, we cannot enjoy free public pre-k at the same time as preventing equal protection questions from going to the court. Hoboken has free public pre-k as a result of the Abbott lawsuits, which asked similar questions to this case. To remedy the segregation that the court found, it permitted funding for public pre-k in certain urban districts, including ours. Public pre-k is enjoyed by many families in this town, including the children of non-district school leaders.

3.) As parents, we are too divided and emotionally invested in a certain answer. In our country, it is the courts that clarify our understanding of civil rights. And in Hoboken, we have never needed this more than now. To be clear, no one is calling for schools to get closed or calling anyone a “whatzit,” rather we are asking for a neutral party to answer these hard questions for us.

Secondly, I wanted to address the embarrassing antics at the last Board of Education meeting.

I expect that there will be difference of opinion and values among this board. But when the interests of this district’s students conflict with outside interests, the code of ethics makes it clear which takes priority. The code also dictates that board members do not take private actions that would compromise the board.

So here’s another way of looking at it: when you play for the Yankees but root for the other team and provide them with inside strategy, then no one will trust you, will want to play with you, or will want to hire you and certainly no one watching the game will like you.

The code of ethics not only exists to protect the interests of our district children but they also serve to protect YOUR public and professional reputation. You can advocate for any group of children but you cannot do so from that chair. If this is too difficult for you, then I know some highly qualified people who can serve our district children wholeheartedly.

So I want to say this as nicely as possible… but you need to get your act together! We are talking about the civil rights of children! Any reasonably intelligent person would know that political gaming is inappropriate.

Most of us in our family histories have experienced being “the other.” For many families in Hoboken, that struggle is still very real today. I call on school leaders to act sensitively and model integrity around issues of civil rights in our community. Thank you to the majority of the board who have refrained from political gaming and who have acted at great personal cost to defend the civil rights of children in our district!

Thank you."

No, thank youMrs. Kim

originally posted on "Hijinks on the Hoboken School BoE"


  1. Say it ! It is very powerful to think about the treatment and cavalier dismissal of the "other", as Mrs. Kim noted. Very thoughtful. She's got my vote.

  2. Damn that Biancamano guy for caring about kids, education, and schools. I bet people will do something about that! Like re-elect him.

    1. Sure he cares-but not about the district he was elected to represent! Biancamano stands an excellent chance of being appointed to the board by Ms.Sargent or whoever makes those decsions! Adios! Hasta luego!

    2. Except the kids, education and school he cares about are HoLa and the people that re-elected are HoLa parents, Pupie and the VBMs. It would be great if Sandwich Head actually gave a damn about our district's kids.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Peter B either wrote or said something at one point that made me think (IN MY OPINION) he sounded functionally illiterate. Surely there are better choices for the BOE.


    5. Peter gets by because OTHER PEOPLE WRITE HIS STUFF. He's a trojan horse, got Brittney and Madigan through the gates, now all 3 are fighting Stick Romanos "war." Sad for the kids.

  3. Anon 3:11, if he cares so much about hola kids, education and schools, then he can serve them on the hola board. The Public School District does not need a saboteur on their dais.

    1. He doesnt care about either group of the kids. Morals and ethics don't play into his political strategy. He is just another pandering politician that makes hollow promises to get elected.

  4. This Mom really summarizes how many of us feel.

    And like she said: "when the interests of this district’s students conflict with outside interests, the code of ethics makes it clear which takes priority...You can advocate for any group of children but you cannot do so from that chair."

  5. Slapped upside his dopey sandwich head, LOL! Kudos!!

  6. The Old Guard politicos hate it when those pesky newcomers get involved in what has been a cash cow for them for generations.

    Apparently Peter Biancamano has learned his ethics from the likes of the family of convicted felon Anthony Russo.

  7. Feds, please take note and just follow the money! In the category of OG love of public money, your sweep of the OG should include reviewing the finances of Hola (started by OG/former BoE members who had bilked the district - there's an audit to show this) and Hopes, a federal Head Start provider.

  8. Biancamano is a Russo Jr. wannabe.

    1. biancamano doesn't have anywhere near the political savvy or killer instincts of russo. i despise both of them, but peter is strictly a follower.

  9. And Feds, take a close look at the OG list... the names never change. And they are all "related". Peter Biancamano's council seat race this year was funded by Mike Russo and PB was on the same ticket as Carmelo Garcia who, along with fellow candidate Ruben Ramos, were part of the "three amigos" Garcia/Ramos/Campos in the days of yesteryear. And Peter's campaign manager, Pablo Fonseca, was also once chief of staff to then Newark Mayor Cory Booker and is now campaign manager for County Freeholder Stick Romano, who illegally took over as head of the Hoboken Democratic Committee. And Garcia helped start HoLa with Frank Pupie Raia... who originally ran against Mike Russo this year in the council race until he made a deal with Russo to step down and instead help get Ramos elected via his annual paid-for-vote scheme in Hoboken's Housing Authority... and so on... and so on...and so on...

  10. Proving for all that being a doofus doesn't mean you can't be a clear and present danger to your community.

    Really, really happy a serious professional in Tiffanie Fisher is the representative of the second ward council and not Peter Biancamano. He can't do as much damage on the BoE with that cheap OG politics but obviously it's plenty.

    People on the board need to do their work seriously but be mindful the politics is a setup for November. The lawsuit is a self-inflicted wound and may cost plenty if the BoE changes hands.

    1. And your comment was so sensible until your "self inflicted wound" statement. Well, that is your opinion so I'll leave it at that.

    2. That bigger picture seems like it's getting lost in the emotions that the HoLa expansion has generated. And those emotions seem grounded at least as much in the circumstances that surrounded HoLa's creation and the personal animosity (much deserved) for its leadership as it is in the actual issues involved in the expansion.

      Whatever you think of the legal and ethical merits of the lawsuit, the decision to file it and to continue pursuing it, has created a very real political problem. And the filing of an amicus brief by the ACLU did not magically turn political shit into political gold.

      No matter what happens in the lawsuit itself, the decision to pursue it makes it much more likely that control of the school board will revert back to Raia and Russo this November and I like many others share the view that this result would cause far more damage to the future of our district schools than could conceivably result from a two grade expansion of HoLA.

      The other side is going to keep talking about this and use it to maximum advantage, no matter how "unethical" people think that is, because they'd be nuts not to.

      People really need to give some serious thought about how to win an election next November in which we'll need the votes of lots of people who don't think there's anything wrong with Hoboken families having the choice of applying to Hoboken's three charter schools, and who disagree with the pursuit of this lawsuit.

      Peter Biancamano won't be running. We're going to have to beat the people who will be running, not the people who already won last year, and the new candidates are not likely to look very old guard-like.

      Losing control of the Board over this, especially if the district loses the lawsuit and the effort therefore turns out to be futile, would make this lawsuit very clearly not some thing that benefited our district children.

    3. Anon, I completely disagree with the fear-mongering scenario you present, and the FALSE narrative that the district trying to limit "choice." The District's opponents have been riding a wave of propaganda and misinformation about the lawsuit, aided by our so-called "newspaper." Have they written about the ACLU-ELC entry for the district yet?

      You are making the propagandist argument. In fact, the landscape HAS changed. Completely.

      It's the right thing to do for the Hoboken district, and fear-mongering that pursuit of what is right is will elect more dopes is your political spin and/or opinion.

    4. Well said "Anonymous March 30, 2016 at 9:55 AM".

      Very well said.

    5. Are you actually condoning doing unethical things and abandoning the kids at the BOE in the name of political expediency? Seriously Anon 9:55AM? Because that is just evil.

      That may work for the dark side, but not for me.

    6. Translation:
      Until public school district parents come out to vote for and publicly support their schools, charter school parents must always be a focus of the public school district board members.
      Conversely, Charter school board members and parents do not have to be concerned with public school students as their board members are not elected.

      morally reprehensible set-up, Politically expedient;

    7. You call it politics but its also reality. We need to succeed in the real world not in the world as we would like it to be. Don't kill the messenger just because you don't like the message. I want to win in November every bit as much as you do.

      Like it or not that larger voter base is what gave KF its majority in 2009 - not the votes of public school parents - and its provided the votes for every reform school board win since. It's the reason that reform had the opportunity to improve our schools.

      Increasing that vote was the reason for moving the election to November wasn't it? If we wanted to diminish it we should have left the election in April.

    8. It is YOUR reality. The message is your opinion, unless the Almighty is posting on my site.

      I'm with Anon @ 12:31 PM. Once I sell out to alleged political expedience, the lights go out on this blog.

      I am glad we got Gardiner on the NHSA and didn't listen to similar fear-mongerers whose knees were knocking over fear of big bad Frank. Ooga-booga.

      We got your message, thank you.

    9. This is not just a lawsuit. This is a case with civil rights implications. The district parents have figured that out and they will educate the greater electorate of that finer detail this fall. That the ACLU supports this case is huge. This is an electorate that clearly wants improved public schools and segregated schools are not the solution.

      No one said the choice policy is going anywhere but choice has its legal limitations. I would think that's something even smart charter parents would understand. The ability to choose a public school ends when it begins to infringe on the civil rights of district kids. That is the law, clear and simple.

      As for the Raia, Russo and Romano infiltration on the BoE. One presumes the feds are watching them keenly. I seriously wonder if they will be up to the same tactics this fall. Or maybe they are just dumb enough to try. In the worst case scenario that OG/Hola affiliates are elected, then the parents can use ethics complaints to fight back. There is no easier case for the ethics board than when a charter parent/affiliate seeks a public school board position for the sole purpose of dismissing a civil rights case.

      Lastly, does anyone seriously think Hola would even put Biancamano on their board? They are using him, Brit and Madigan as tools but I doubt any of them would be invited to sit on the Hola board. The parents of Hola are wealthy and well-educated. If they are not even allowed to vote for their own board members, how would they feel if an OG-affiliated non-parent were appointed to their board? I give the Hola parents enough credit to think they would be outraged.

    10. If it's a civil rights issue to expand a charter school by a couple of grades is it also a civil rights issue to have charter schools in the first place?

      Are Elysian, Hola, and Hoboken Charter all having the civil rights of all Hoboken children?

    11. Are Elysian, Hola, and Hoboken Charter harming the civil rights of all Hoboken children?

    12. Anon 10:34 & 10:36- your question is argumentative, divisive and creates a false narrative about the matter on appeal.

      Simply put, "dumb" question. No, charters are not inherently harmful to the civil rights of public district children.

      No, Elysian and Hoboken Charters are not at issue in the matter under Appeal.

    13. If charters are not bad why is adding grades to a charter school bad? That's what this lawsuit seeks to prevent.

    14. The lawsuit is blocking the expansion because of the segregative effect and the financial impact on the District's kids. Maybe this will wake up Trenton and make them keep an eye out for that demographic disparity each time charters come up for renewal and actual require those schools do something about it. The money going to the other charters, including HoLa's lower grades, are already in the budget. Of the charters, HoLa's demographic disparity is the most stark compared to the District's kids. If you are trying to stir the pot, please move on.

    15. Do Elysian and Hoboken Charter also contribute to the segregative effect that you suggest Holas has?

    16. That is why 12:17 said to move on. Obviously you are trying to stir the pot. "Why pick on one but not the others?" Because, as you already know, the other schools, are different but HoLa is the worst and the expansion is hitting the District hard (not that you care, you got yours). Possibly by design with the counseling out they undertake. The other schools are not expanding. But again, you already know that trollie. Good offense (aka: the other-people-do-it whine) is a great defense when the facts are against you.

    17. Anon 1:16, why do you ask that question unless you are spoiling for a fight. Elysian and Hoboken charter are not parties to the appeal, and no one, including the district, has made any such claim.

      I have questions for you. Why is HoLa such a hotbed for sleazy political operatives? Why doesn't HoLa dump their association with proven liars and perverse individuals who certify they post under various screen names to ATTACK the public schools and Mayor Zimmer? Why do HoLa administrators openly canoodle with a Hoboken Board member? Why does an HoLa board member maintain a political campaign account for the same Hoboken Board member? Has HoLa ever awarded a no bid contract to one of its Trustees?

      I have more questions, but probably need to OPRA SOME for the answers.

    18. The pot is being stirred, it's being stirred by this ridiculous lawsuit and people know who is to blame for the lawsuit.

      Charters do affect the district, all of them. If you're dislike this effect be consistent and come out as being against Elysian, Hoboken Charter, and Hola. The farce that Hola is magically different is not being bought by residents who vote.

      That you hate the people who run Hola comes across loud and clear. The people who send their kids to charters don't care. You can continue hating the Hola leadership all you like but if people feel that charter schools, Hola included, are giving their kids a superior education than the district would then suing any of the schools is going to be perceived as an attack on those parent and those kids.

      This lawsuit has been flogged beyond ridicule and the BOE members who continue to push it risk losing the trust of the public. One way or another I expect the issue to be settled before December of this year, by the courts, the election, or both.

    19. Anon 1:58- Don't put words in my mouth. I don't "hate" the people who run HoLa. Put your broad brush away. I hate scum who lie and rip off the taxpayers of Hoboken. This website has posted years of documentary evidence on the corrupt practices and unethical conduct of people whom have been welcomed with open arms by HoLa, that is a FACT. DEAL WITH IT.

      That said, I don't know WHY such persons are APOINTEES to the board of a SCHOOL- any school.

      As for your talking point about about "perceived attacks" - that is your perception, and you are entitled to it. If you speak for the public, and represent a larger group or organization, by all means identify yourself.

      Your talking point about being against "all charters" is horse manure you are attempting to spread about. Clearly you have some personal stake in the outcome. When it comes to the Appellate, they are on their own clock so unless you have inside information about the appeal, who knows when they'll have oral argument.

      You are trying to muddy the waters. The focus of the appeal is quite narrow and it seems the ball is in the DOE's court to follow that law, and in HoLa's court to rectify the issues raised by the ACLU and ELC. Once done, there is no basis for litigation.

      But by all means, keep spinning.

    20. This suit is about a newly desired expansion.
      How hard is that to understand?

    21. You mean the newly desired expansion where HoLa management played fast and loose (deliberately) with the application renewal forms to try and sneak in an expansion without following the normal procedure?

      No, this isn't just about an expansion. The real issue the lack of ethics and integrity that underpins that entire organization. But I am sure you would like everyone to ignore that and pretend this is about the expansion. Sorry anon 10:14 - the real issue is HoLa's management, board and the stunts they pull. And eventually, those stunts are going to blow up so spectacularly in HoLa's face that I bet the whole school shuts down. You guys can't help it - you are in too deep with all the wrong sorts of people.

    22. comments like the one below make it sound like people are against ALL charter schools. Not just HoLa.

      Anonymous March 31, 2016 at 5:33 PM
      Others may feel differently, but I don't want my tax dollars going to any private schools. Charter Schools are, in essence, private schools. The original idea behind them was to provide an alternative in districts with abysmal public schools. We don't have that in Hoboken anymore so, as far as I'm concerned, all kids should be in the district school where we foot the bill and have the right to vote on the board. If parents don't like it, they can pay to put their kids in a private school on their own dime, not mine.

  11. I fully expect the scum she was referring to lack the capacity to comprehend or care about the code of ethics. People with no ethics just have no ethics.

    Perhaps they'd be better off over at that charter school with other people who have no ethics.

  12. For me as soon as Michele Russo came out for Biancamano I have to think of him as corrupt. Same goes for Romano and of course Garcia.
    If they are all working together to keep HoLa funding flowing then something stinks.

    1. What could be wrong with a completely unaccountable publicly funded private school with a whole bunch of mooches and scumbags associated with it all screaming "gimme mines".

      I am honestly shocked anyone bothers to defend HoLa. And anyone sending their kids there knowing how that place was set up and who is connected to it has absolutely no shame.

  13. So given in to the bullies? Walk away because a few well connected (in every sense of the word) abuse their power and wealth to get what's theirs?

    I think it is disgusting that a few unethical and powerful use their social, financial and political power to gather 600 vote by mail and influence the State to ignore their own laws.

    Do YOU think it is ok that the some in Hola and the NJDOE abuse their power and ignore their own laws to create a private school specifically designed to "populate Hoboken" with "people like them" (al la Barbara Martinez). Serioulsy arguing that it is and should be State Policy? Shocking and gross!

    I dont think you give the people of Hoboken enough credit to understand what Ms. Kim said at the meeting. I thought it was pretty clear and very powerful. Hoboken needs the courts help figure this out. Fix the funding. Address the segragation. and STOP the political gamesmanship.

    Your fear mongering seems like just another well placed talking point and is seriously not helping the community.

  14. Others may feel differently, but I don't want my tax dollars going to any private schools. Charter Schools are, in essence, private schools. The original idea behind them was to provide an alternative in districts with abysmal public schools. We don't have that in Hoboken anymore so, as far as I'm concerned, all kids should be in the district school where we foot the bill and have the right to vote on the board. If parents don't like it, they can pay to put their kids in a private school on their own dime, not mine.

    1. bingo. agree 100000%


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