A former Hackensack Board of Education member filed a complaint with the state School Ethics Commission on Thursday over a current trustee’s contention that new state laws that require teaching about LGBT history are “repugnant,” “incredibly disturbing” and “frankly shocking.”
Frances Cogelja also wrote that the new laws, which require that the curriculum be incorporated in New Jersey middle and high school beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, are a waste of time.
Former board member Jason Nunnermacker, in turn, filed the ethics complaint.
Nunnermacker, an attorney from Hackensack, accuses Cogelja of violating state ethics requirements that all board of education Members "uphold and enforce all laws...pertaining to schools" by sending the emails to Acting city Schools Supt. Rosemary Marks email “from her school-based and taxpayer-funded email account.”
Nunnermacker alleges that she also violated a state law that mandates that they also "make decisions in terms of the educational welfare of children and will seek to develop and maintain public schools that meet the individual needs of all children regardless of their...sex or social standing."
Cogelja also violated a state statute under which trustees “will make no personal promises nor take any private action that may compromise the board," his complaint adds.
"I am disgusted and appalled. I fear where we are headed as a nation," one of the emails says. "We have a large percentage of kids who cannot read or do math at their grade level, and our governor thinks we should be wasting valuable instruction time on this nonsense.
“Everywhere I turn, this alternative lifestyle narrative is being shoved done our children's throats. Where does it end???”
Nearly 200 people flocked to a Hackensack Board of Education meeting Monday night to express their feelings about the emails. Some waved rainbow flags, while others wore t-shirts with equality-related slogans.
A Change.org petition seeking Cogelja’s resignation collected 838 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.
For her part, Cogelja said she isn't resigning.
She said she reached out to district officials as a concerned parent and that her comments are protected by the First Amendment.
"I wanted to know if I could opt out of those lessons for my child only and I was told that yes I could," the mother of two wrote in an email to Daily Voice last week. “I have no disdain or disgust or any other negative feeling toward people who have a different sexual lifestyle from my own.
"Limited classroom time should be spent on teaching children to be critical thinkers and to be proficient in the subjects they need to succeed in high school and beyond,” Cogelja added.
"I have every right as a parent to not have my child participate in something that I do not think is suitable as part of a public school curriculum," she added. "I believe conversations having to do with sexuality should be had at home between parents and their children."
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