Former school board member Corey Teague, who served a single term from 2012-15, is attempting to return to the school board to fight for special education.
“I was a voice for them up there,” said Teague, 39, speaking of special education students. “I need to be back up there so I can work on special education. It’s still a mess.”
The district owes special education students thousands of hours of speech therapy. The issue has yet to be fully resolved.
Teague’s son and daughter are both special education students in the district. He said during his first stint on the board he improved communication between the district’s special education office and parents.
Before that communication was poor, said Teague. He said he also made many trips to Trenton to seek more funding for the district. He also opposed Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams in the district. His opposition to the exams prompted then-state appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans to launch an investigation that targeted him.
“My biggest thing was special education,” said Teague. It remains his biggest issue as he seeks a return to the school board.
Teague said he is also focusing on bullying. His daughter was a victim of bullying, he said.
“We had to put her through a full psychiatric program to get her stable again. It was all from the bullying she went through,” said Teague. “Not enough is being done to address bullying. It’s personal for me.”
Teague said he wants to expand the in-classroom mediation program. He also wants to create safe spaces for young people to curb bullying.
Teague said the district needs to “think outside the box” to improve its state test scores on math and English.
“A lot of kids are not good test takers, man,” said Teague. “We need to be able to think outside the box.”
Teague wants specific plans devised for the district’s worst performing schools to boost test scores. He said the school board has to require the superintendent and principals of each poor performing school to come up with a plan to improve learning in their buildings, he said.
When asked what he would do to avert teacher layoffs, Teague said he wants to reduce spending on vendors.
“My thing would be to re-examine these contracts,” said Teague. He alleged the political machine with sway over the current board is benefiting through contracts.
Teague said the high school academies “work to a degree.” Still, he said the academies are not producing the results needed to improve education in the district.
“We may have to re-evaluate some of these academy leaders,” said Teague.
After losing his seat, Teague ran three times, but was unsuccessful in returning to the school board. He has lamented his decision to move the Board of Education election to November. He is now in favor of moving the elections back to April, he said.
Teague attended School 21 and the Passaic County Technical Institute. He attended a culinary program at the Passaic County Community College for two years, he said. He works as a traveling preacher, he said.
“They need somebody up there that can really push the envelope,” said Teague.
Teague received the backing of the city’s blue-collar public works union on Monday. The union has 164 members, according to Bilal Hakeem, a leader of the union.
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Editor’s Note: This is the last of a series of articles on Paterson school board candidates. All seven candidates were contacted. Candidates Iris Rigo, Dania Martinez, and Jeyss Abreu did not respond. School board elections are on Nov. 5, 2019.