A controversial Edison school board member running for the State Senate in week’s Democratic primary is calling for public school teachers to undergo periodic psychological testing and alleged that some educators are racist.
Mohin Patel is challenging incumbent Patrick Diegnan as part of a ticket essentially led by Edison mayoral candidate Mahesh Bhagia, the Demcoratic municipal chairman.
“All the teachers should have yearly assessments along with competency tests conducted on the subject matter that they teach. Just like every other licensed profession that needs to be renewed and course credits taken, so should teachers,” Patel wrote in a WhatsApp group. “They should also be psychologically evaluated as well.”
Patel also claimed that some students have told him that “some of the teachers are racist and openly say racist things.”
According to Patel, the Board of Education vice president, “the biggest problem is the teachers union.”
“You have some teacher’s (sic) that should’ve been fired a long time ago still getting ridiculous salaries and benefits that are undeserved,” Patel said.
Jeff Bowden, the president of the Edison Township Education Association, called Patel out on his statements.
“I find the comments outlandish. Teachers are evaluated annually,” Bowden said. “We’re fortunate to work for a great education system, regardless of what one person may think.”
Patel apologized earlier this year for a history of anti-Muslim and anti-media posts on his Facebook page.
He is one of the Edison Eight – a group of eight individuals identified by the U.S. Postal Inspector as responsible for a racist 2017 mailer urged residents to “Make Edison Great Again” and warned “the Chinese and Indians are taking over our town.”
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has empaneled a grand jury that is probing the racist mailers.
Bowden didn’t seem worried about Patel’s statements.
“He attacks everybody from all walks of life. This is what he does,” the teachers union president said. “He seems to be slandering lots of people.”
Patel is acting as treasurer of Mahesh Bhagia’s mayoral campaign. On a tape obtained by the New Jersey Globe, Councilman Ajay Patil said he witnessed Wilentz law firm partner Satish Poondi assembling the racist mailer at Bhagia’s home in 2017.