Board members at odds over committee

Staff Writer

Staff Writer

RED BANK — David Tarver’s offer to bring racial diversity to the Board of Education’s newly formed residency hearing committee was denied last week.

Board President Janet Jones opted for an all-white panel, appointing board members Karlheinz Haas, Peter Noble and Thomas Schroll.

Tarver said Jones’ choices were detrimental to an already racially segregated community.

"We have a lot of single mothers in this town and a lot of blacks and Latinos," he said. "To put three white males on this committee is sending the wrong message."

In an effort to address the issue of non-borough students illegally attending Red Bank’s primary and middle schools, the board voted in September to hire a residency officer and form a three-member residency committee. The officer would investigate cases where residency is questioned. The results, handed over to the committee, would then be made by recommendations to the board.

Concerned that many of these "illegal" kids could be a product of a precarious or abusive family situation, Tarver volunteered to be part of the decision- making process.

But Jones, who said she chose those board members on the basis of hard work and their parental status, thought she made the right decision.

"At some point, you are going to have to trust your colleagues," Jones told Tarver. "These are three board members I think can do a good job. … If people give me flack, I’ll deal with the flack."

Even when Schroll offered to step aside to allow Tarver to serve on the committee, Jones still wouldn’t budge.

Tarver, the founder of the Red Bank Education and Development Initiative and voted to the school board in May, said he thought Jones’ decision was without merit and the concerns of the residents in mind.

"There are a lot of people in this town that feel there is an issue underfoot to get certain people out of town. … It’s a very real feeling of the people in our community. Sometimes flack is necessary, sometimes flack is not," he said.

Addressing Tarver’s concerns, Board Attorney Richard McComber said if a situation comes up, all precautions to protect the child would be taken.

"It’s a process. Where there are mitigations or appeals, the board tries to work out [the situation] because it’s not the child’s fault that he/she is going to the wrong school," he said.