On March 21, 2017, I requested from the Paterson Public School District a copy of the title, lease agreement, or any other document as it pertains to the District provided vehicle provided to Donnie Evans. I also requested receipts or reimbursement for gasoline and or maintenance bills as it relates to Evans’ vehicle through the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). Our office is in the midst of a review of all of these documents. From my research of this data, one document left me particularly flabbergasted.
It has been well documented that our schools can feel like infernos during the Spring, Summer, and early Fall months. For years, employees have complained that our students and staff are left in unsafe, unhealthy, and inhumane classroom settings. Quite often, during days of extreme heat, these classrooms can exceed 100 degrees. More than that, this is extremely dangerous for students with medical ailments which are exacerbated by the extreme heat. The Union is on record for years demanding that this is remedied once and for all.
As recently as Friday, May 19, 2017, the Paterson Education Association demanded to meet with the Paterson State Appointed Superintendent, Donnie Evans to negotiate the impact of the extreme heat in all Paterson worksites. Unfortunately, we have yet to hear back directly from the Superintendent confirming receipt of our correspondence.
I have always stated that the Paterson State Appointed District Superintendent Dr. Donnie Evans never fully understood the adverse impact that these inhumane conditions have on our students and our employees. I believe that this is especially true as he works from his air-conditioned 4th-floor corner office located at 90 Delaware Avenue. Be this as it may, while sorting through the OPRA request, I could not help but notice one particular document and the message it sends to our students and employees.
According to district records, on July 26, 2016, a receipt was paid in the amount of $250.77 for the following service/repairs, “AC not working, needs service.” According to these same records, the air condition repairs were made to a vehicle listing Dr. Donnie Evans as the driver. For those who do not know, Dr. Evans is provided the use of a District school vehicle. The irony here is that the repairs listed on the invoice I am referencing is for the same luxuries Evans has denied the students and staff without air conditioning for years.
Regardless of the year, make, or model of Evans’ vehicle, the optics of the Paterson State Appointed Superintendent using district funds to repair the air conditioning in his vehicle during not only a budget crisis in Paterson but while our schools are sweltering leaves the Union astonished. This self-serving conduct can only be translated one way, “Donnie first, Children Last.”
I cannot intelligently speak as to why Donnie Evans refuses to work with the Paterson Education Association to remedy these issues like extreme heat in our schools. His decision today (June 12, 2017), to allow students to be dismissed from sweltering schools early was the right decision. However, his decision to allow the staff that he is responsible for remaining in these infernos is proof that Donnie Evans will be remembered as the single most incompetent Superintendent in Paterson (if not New Jersey) history.
John McEntee, Jr.
President of the Paterson Education Association