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Letter to the Editor: NAACP Seeks Answers

Oranges and Maplewood Unit of the NAACP inquires about racially charged graffiti found at high school

On February 28th, representatives from the Education Committee of the Oranges and Maplewood Unit of the NAACP attended a West Orange Board of Education meeting. The purpose of our presence was an attempt to seek replies to unanswered questions/concerns that had not been proactively responded to in our meetings with Mayor R. Parisi and Superintendent of Schools, Dr. A. Cavanna. In addition, we were seeking to gain insight into contradictory statements that had been provided to our organization, or explained in the police report on the incident and or have clarification of the public statements generated by city officials that were not congruent or consistent with documentation.

As of this writing it would appear that many of the elected and appointed individuals in the township are hoping that the alleged bias incident becomes a distant memory. Since our Unit is not satisfied with the current outcomes or explanations generated on this possible bias crime we will not be deterred until more is known and publicly revealed.

The Oranges & Maplewood Unit of the NAACP, seeks a comprehensive investigation and a public reporting by the township’s Human Relations Commission (Chaired by Pastor Doug Adams) as to why the Board of Education employee, who supervises the weight room did not address the bias graffiti, in accordance with district policies.

Our Unit, wishes to have a meeting with Mayor, R. Parisi, BoE President, Ms. Laura Lab and Superintendent, Dr. A. Cavana in order to resolve concerns:

  • Was the student victim of the assault a drug dealer?
  • Has the assault victim been charged with the selling of drugs within the boundaries of a school building?
  • What specific evidence exists that would conclude that an African American student wrote the bias graffiti?
  • What vehicles has the school district created to generate a more respectful and diverse atmosphere in the high school [a current high school administrator admits that students regularly address their classmates with ethnic slurs without punitive consequences]?
  • Why did high school administrators permit “restricted areas” to exist in the weight room?
  • What activities and programs has the school district proposed that will address and promote racial harmony?
  • What is the school district doing to hire qualified and diverse personnel?
  • What is the school district doing to significantly increase the number of students of color who are eligible to participate in the High Aptitude Program (HAP) or advanced placement courses?
  • What existing academic programs are addressing and reducing the academic achievement gap between students of color and their white peers?)

The West Orange community is diverse. The needs of all citizens should be promoted and proactively addressed. However, our Unit perceives that some segments of the West Orange community do not promote diversity. This is exemplied when a middle school teacher (Ms. Hyde) chooses to teach an irrelevant lesson (Ten Little N_____) to her HAP students. Or, when West Orange adolescents of color, perceive that their civil and human rights are not respected or protected by the authorities.

In closing, the Oranges and Maplewood Unit of the NAACP stands ready to assist in the promoting of racial harmony in our local communities. However, in order for our organization to be of assistance, the truth must be revealed. Currently, on too many fronts, misinformation, unfair treatment and negative perceptions are allowed to be the preferred status of operation.

Our Unit hopes that the West Orange community wishes to promote diversity rather than an alternative community culture. If justice is denied or if racial harmony is not promoted within the West Orange community then something must be done to have state and federal statutes enforced.

The time to act is now. West Orange elected and appointed officials must not allow personal relationships to interfere with the execution of the duties or the commitments that are needed to promote and assist all citizens of West Orange.

Thomas Puryear
President, Orange & Maplewood: NAACP

Cynthia Cumming March 23, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Mr. Puryear, did you mail copies of this letter to the parties you mentioned in this article?
wohopeful March 23, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Mr. Puryear, I agree and support your position here. There is a faction in town that believes it is enough just to say we are diverse but when it comes time to embrace and accept diversty, their position is that anyone that is not like them should move out of town. The advanced programs are severly lacking in diversity and opportunity and this is unacceptable. This is 2012 and we have come so far, we must not allow hatred and ignorance to flourish in our community.
Cynthia Cumming March 23, 2012 at 04:01 AM
by westorangevoice, 03/21/12 8:24 PM Re: Let Florida Case Be a Warning by roureman, 03/21/12 8:24 PM The elementals should take notice that they shouldn't be wandering where they don't belong and have no reason to be. West Orange Hopeful, since this is your nome de plume on NJ.com, please explain your comments above in the context of your post here. Additionally, please explain your information, other than what you may or may not have read, to formulate this opinion.
James Johnston March 23, 2012 at 04:32 AM
According to a story in the Chronicle, a student was assaulted with a baseball bat. Apparently this is not a concern to Mr. Puryear. What basis has he for accusing the victim, unless he is has an agenda, and undisclosed involvement with the attacker? Why should Mr. Puryear condemn the WOHS staff for the use of "ethnic slurs" by the students? Perhaps he needs to confront his own community for allowing such language. There is no one in the town education system who uses these pejoratives in a school setting. Furthermore, are not the students and parents most responsible for aptitude, and achievement? The schools provide every opportunity to excel, the teachers encourage learning and celebrate success. wohopeful is mistaken in accusing the advanced programs of discriminating, confusing high standards with low motives.
wohopeful March 23, 2012 at 10:32 AM
Ms. Cumming, if your claim is that I post under another name on the NJ.com forums you would be mistaken. My comments above stand, it is one thing to say we are a diverse community and it is an entirely other to practice that diversity.
Cynthia Cumming March 23, 2012 at 12:36 PM
WoHo: lol! Have a good day.
Cynthia Cumming March 29, 2012 at 02:41 PM
OK, Woho, maybe you'd like to explain this post which you posted under the Hoodie Day article: wohopeful 3:04 pm on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 Will they have a day where they all pay homage to Mr. Zimmerman when he is vindicated and the true aggressor is identified?
chris March 29, 2012 at 03:10 PM
"his own community"....hmmm....I thought we were all one community James. AND perhaps you should do more research as to what the achievement gap means...
James Johnston March 31, 2012 at 03:01 AM
chris... what is your community? who are you? what is your agenda, beyond enforcing a "group think" mentality? AND perhaps you should investigate the disparity of achievement, without recourse to appeasement... if we were one community, there would be no opportunity for Mr. Puryear to practice his self-righteous philosophy of blame. btw, nice use of the subjunctive, if intentional.
Sick and tired April 02, 2012 at 04:53 PM
As it seems here in this forum it always come down to black and white. If Mr. Zimmerman felt in dangered and had to defend himself from someone who was not thinking about him or following him to start with. If Mr. Zimmerman would have listened to the authorities and did not follow young, Mr.Tryvon, he would be living today. As I first started out saying, if Mr. Zimmermam felt he had to defend himself against a young man who was lighter in weight, younger in age and had no weapon, why was a weapon used on him. What ever happened to a fair fight. If he was going to get his but kicked so be it, he should have left him alone. He called the authorities and they were on the way. But we know where Cynthia stands on all matters, I'm sure if Mr. Zimmerman was dead and Tryvon was the one doing the so called Neighborhood watch her response would be different.
Sick and tired April 02, 2012 at 04:57 PM
another relevant part of that ordeal with the school and the graffiti and the bat and so forth, the part that's also getting lost is where they say, they believe it all stemmed from drugs being stolen. Being stolen from the student who jumped on the other student who came back later for revenge. All that aside, nothing was said about the student who had the drugs, which is a real crime within itself.
Cynthia Cumming April 02, 2012 at 07:00 PM
Sick, you don't know where I stand. Reread my posts, which were addressed to another individual based on things THEY said, not me. If you don't delete your post naming me I will have to report it.


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