The governor was the latest state official seeking the resignation of State Board of Education member Jack Fornaro, following racially charged comments he allegedly made to Paterson school officials at a board meeting earlier this month.
“My administration is committed to fostering a learning environment where all students are welcome,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday in a statement. “I will not support comments during school board meetings that fly in the face of New Jersey’s values.”
“In light of Mr. Fornaro’s comments, I urge him to resign. Bias cannot be tolerated,” Murphy added.
Fornaro reportedly asked school officials from Paterson – a majority immigrant population – if the district teaches American history, as well as which periods of history were taught and the passing rates in those classes.
“The demographics that you’ve indicated here — the high population is Hispanic,” Fornaro was recorded asking Paterson officials at the May state school board meeting.
“Just wondering: Do you teach American history as a required course? How far? Do you go back to the Independence, when the country was declared independent, or does it go after the Civil War? Where do you start?”
The line of questioning was “extremely insensitive,” according to a joint May 15 letter to State Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet from Newark-based Sen. Teresa Ruiz, D-29th District and Paterson-based Sen. Nellie Pou, D-3rd District.
“Fornaro asked questions of Paterson School District which seemed to imply it does not teach American History due to the large Latinx population in its schools, the letter reads.
“Given the national climate, we must be clear that New Jersey does not stand for this type of prejudice,” Ruiz and Pou added.