ATTACKS ON SCHOOLS
HACKENSACK CITY GOVERNMENT AND BOARD OF EDUCATION RELATIONS
Hackensack has long been a model for communities throughout our state in regard to the relationship that has historically existed between our City government and our Board of Education. City Council and School Board members have always worked closely and cooperatively together, clearly recognizing that both entities serve, and are funded by, the same residents and taxpayers.
They have supported each other over the years through land swaps, sharing of services and facilities, and in many other ways to ensure that our taxpayers get the most “bang for their buck,” spending the least amount of taxpayer money necessary while delivering the highest level of service possible to our residents, our families and to our children.
THE LABROSSE/CANESTRINO STYLE OF CITY COUNCIL/SCHOOL BOARD RELATIONS
In a dramatic break from our City government’s longstanding tradition of supporting the Hackensack Public Schools, the Labrosse/Canestrino Team has been on the attack against our schools since taking office four years ago. They have continually engaged in public verbal attacks on school officials, staff and even on students. They have advocated the defeat of school budgets without ever providing a public analysis of their objections. They have chosen to discontinue the cooperative sharing of facilities for the use and betterment of all our residents. The list goes on.
THE SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER TURMOIL
The Labrosse Team struck their first blow to our schools 2 months after taking office when they removed the Hackensack Police School Resource Officer from the High School. The School Resource Officer program was an example of the unique bond that had always existed between the City and the School Board. Our program was one of the first in the nation, having started 35 years ago.
As is usually the case, the Labrosse Team initially lied about why they removed the officer from the High School, stating that they removed the officer because no one requested an officer for that year. Apparently realizing how preposterous that sounded after providing an officer for 31 consecutive years without a new request each year, Labrosse quickly backed away from that claim. Unfortunately, what came next was even more preposterous.
Mayor Labrosse then claimed that they pulled the officer because the Hackensack Board of Education owed the City of Hackensack 1 million dollars, seemingly unaware that both City government and the Board of Education are funded by the same taxpayers, with a portion of their tax payment going to each entity. The School Board owing the City a million dollars is like your left pocket owing your right pocket money. The only difference is that by taking the money away from the entity that educates our children and putting it into the City budget, Mayor Labrosse would then have more of your tax dollars to fund his campaign mailings instead of spending it on educational programs for students.
When the High School students became aware that the Labrosse/Canestrino Team was jeopardizing their safety over the issue of which taxpayer pocket the officer would be paid from, the students distributed informational fliers to their classmates and attended a City Council meeting. Incredibly, instead of commending the students for taking an interest in their own well-being, the Labrosse Team demanded to know who “sanctioned” their involvement in an issue regarding their own safety. In a statement that can only be described as outrageous, Deputy Mayor Canestrino declared that the students’ involvement in the issue was “despicable.” So much for encouraging our young people to get involved in their community.
FALSE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST A RESPECTED HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER FOR HAVING THE AUDACITY TO OPPOSE THE LABROSSE POLITICAL MACHINE
The Labrosse/Canestrino approach to politics and government is to constantly and viciously attack anyone who dares to challenge them. So although it was certainly reprehensible, it came as no surprise when they made false allegations against a respected High School teacher who became actively involved with an opposition slate of candidates.
As is their usual manner, Labrosse and Canestrino tried their best to destroy his life. They filed false claims about him to the NJ Office of the Attorney General, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, the Hackensack Superintendent of Schools and the state and county agencies who oversee schools and teachers. They sent out numerous press releases accusing him of unlawful conduct in an attempt to destroy his family name and intimidate him into dropping his support for their opponents.
In a move that showed how little respect Mayor Labrosse has for our City, our residents, our schools and his own office, the Mayor even skipped his own City Council meeting to attend a formal Board of Education meeting to attack that teacher, school officials and School Board members in front of the public, including parents and schoolchildren who were in attendance (documented in the above video). Incidentally, it was the most important City Council meeting of the year as the annual City budget was being introduced at the conclusion of a planned ceremony to honor a prominent member of our community.
The brave young teacher stood his ground against the ferocious attacks brought by Labrosse and Canestrino and was, of course, exonerated of any wrongdoing. He has vowed to work even harder to defeat the Labrosse Political Machine and restore honest government to Hackensack to eliminate the fear of threats and intimidation that exists among many of our City and school employees.