The teachers union took a no confidence vote against superintendent Eileen Shafer on Wednesday for a series of decisions she made, including reopening schools for teachers and staff, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Union officials listed eight grievances in their no confidence resolution:
- Shafer ordering chief custodians to return to in-person work in spring 2020
- Her decision to have all “essential employees” report in-person in “unsafe working conditions”
- Her move in September that “forced all employees” to work in-person
- District offering 1 cloth mask to employees every 3 months
- Shafer’s alleged denial of remote work for immunocompromised employees
- Her 15 percent pay raise while school buildings were “in desperate need of repair”
- Her alleged refusal to provide indoor air quality, maintenance logs, repair schedules to the union
- And her efforts to block union officials from conducting “worksite health and safety inspections,” according to the union.
“Yesterday’s overwhelming support for a Vote of No Confidence in Paterson Superintendent Eileen F. Shafer should send the parents, community, and the entire state a powerful message that the members of the Union do not support the demeanor, policies, or vindictive decisions being made by Shafer,” said John McEntee, Jr., president of the Paterson Education Association, the teachers’ union. “It is time for an immediate change in District leadership as Shafer has demonstrated by her actions that she is unfit for the position.”
Shafer declined to comment via a spokesman on Thursday morning.
School board members defended Shafer and her decisions.
“I think it’s unwarranted because a lot of what they talk about just isn’t true,” said school board president Kenneth Simmons.
Simmons said employees returned to work in-person on June 1.
“They’ve been remote. Other districts have opened,” he said. “They did get access to do their walk-throughs.”
Simmons said the union put together an 80-page report after their walk-throughs.
“I’m on the School Readiness Committee. The district has worked tirelessly, man. I’m normally not the one to side with the district. A lot of this comes down to them not wanting to go back till September,” said school board member Corey Teague.
Shafer is not the first superintendent to be targeted with a no confidence vote. Her predecessor, Donnie Evans, was also subject of a no confidence vote.
Shafer became superintendent in 2017 after Evans retired. Her contract ends in 2022.