March 29, 2023

Writing in Support of Superintendent Kelley and Against Anti-Equity Attacks

To the Editor:
The Executive Board of Princeton Parents for Black Children (PPBC) expresses its support of and trust in Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Superintendent Dr. Carol Kelley and the Board of Education in its recent personnel decisions regarding Princeton High School (PHS). We also condemn and share our disappointment in efforts by a small, but vocal, group of parents to use these decisions as a pretext to mount a vicious and disrespectful misinformation campaign against Dr. Carol Kelley and other Black women leaders in the district.

The latest attacks against Dr. Kelley started with two widely distributed inaccurate and inflammatory emails. These emails claimed to alert the community about the supposedly unjust “firing” of the PHS principal, the superintendent’s alleged ignoring of the Police Department’s recommendation — actually never made —  to place armed police in schools, and the decline in students’ mental health, all supposedly attributable to actions by the superintendent. Despite the unanimity of the Board of Education in supporting the PHS personnel decision, Dr. Kelley and her efforts to improve the schools have become the main target of anti-equity parents.

Unfortunately, these public attacks have expanded to include specific members — all of whom are Black women — of her diverse leadership team and the only Black woman/person of color on the PPS Board of Education.

Despite the prevalence of misinformation, we find that Dr. Kelley, who entered the district in the heart of the pandemic and after critical members of the district administrative leadership resigned, has done a phenomenal job. This was exemplified in the unprecedented “State of the District” event where she shared the BOE-approved five-year strategic plan which included input from the community, teachers, and staff. She has begun or conducted assessments of the Dual Language Learning program and the district’s math curriculum. She has expanded the availability of preschool, made advances in early learning literacy, and begun implementation of the Special Education audit. Despite the pandemic and the conditions of the district upon her arrival, she has rebuilt her leadership team with highly qualified individuals.

In short, she is successfully making changes that, inexplicably, have some terrified that they will lose the resources and privileges that attracted them to this community.

PPBC embraces the change for a more inclusive and better education for ALL of our children and will not countenance racist behavior designed to stop change since we gained an effective administrator.

Rhinold Ponder
Co-President, on behalf of the full PPBC Board
Laurel Circle