State Sens. Teresa Ruiz and Nellie Pou asked state Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet to investigate potentially prejudiced statements made by state Board of Education member Jack Fornaro.
At the most recent State Board of Education meeting, Fornaro implied that the Paterson School District did not teach American history because of the city’s large number of Latina and Latino students.
“United States History is required by the state Department of Education throughout our K-12 education. It is shocking that a State Board of Education member would suggest that American history, as a subject, is not being taught in one of our school districts,” the two said in a joint statement. “It’s offensive and unacceptable that anyone, much less a member of the board, would suggest that the students are somehow struggling in the course because they are immigrants or the children of immigrants.”
Fornaro also suggested he did not expect those Hispanic students to pass American history courses, they said.
Pou and Ruiz are sit on the Senate Education Committee, of which the latter senator is chair.
The senators asked that Repollet look into Fornaro’s statements but stopped short of calling for the board member’s resignation.
“The diversity we see in our classrooms is an asset and to believe otherwise is appallingly ahistorical. It is something that improves everyone’s learning experience and our State Board of Education members should view it as such or they should not be in their position,” they said. “We do not know what Board Member Jack Fornaro’s intent was in asking his questions but at the very least they came off as extremely troubling. We hope that the administration takes every available measure to rectify this situation and prevent further incidents like this.”