BOE approves new policy on student surveys


Megan Austin

The Pascack Valley District Board of Education meeting was held Monday night at Pascack Hills High School. During the meeting, community members raised concerns about student surveys leading to the approval of the Board of Education’s new policy, giving students more protection when taking surveys or evaluations.

Sarah Shapiro, Megan Austin, and Olivia Moreno

Community members shared their concerns on surveys distributed to students during Monday night’s Board of Education meeting held at Pascack Hills.  The BOE also discussed steps that were being taken to find a new superintendent. 

During the BOE meeting the Pascack Valley and PH students representatives, Junior Evan Scalia from PV, who was absent from Monday night’s meeting, and Senior Hillary Siegel from PH High School, were introduced for the 2021-2022 school year. Siegel was invited to the podium to take her oath of office and introduce herself. 

 “I like volunteering with the community, and I’m excited to be a student board representative because I want to speak on behalf of my school and make sure that everyone’s voices are heard,” Siegel said. 

During the first public comment section of the BOE meeting, community members discussed the PV District climate survey that students were asked to take. Some community members questioned the possibility of being able to opt-out of future surveys. 

“It is nobody’s business what’s going on inside our children’s heads except the parents and educators,” Montvale resident Ben Frieman said. “If there’s a big problem, we should be talking about it in these meetings, not handing [surveys] to our children to hand back under duress for some kids.”

The BOE voted and accepted the policy entitled the Protection of Pupil Right Amendment after many community members raised concerns about the possibility of “intrusive questions” that might be on the surveys.

 “This policy is stating that if you ask about political affiliations, mental or psychological health, you must get written consent right from a parent,” BOE member Gini Varghese said. “This [policy] is just saying if you ask any of these, frankly intrusive questions, you must get written consent.”

BOE President, Tammy Molinelli, said that as of Oct. 11th, the search for a new superintendent will begin. 

“We [will be] interviewing organizations to help the Board of Education identify candidates for the new superintendent [of this] district,” Molinelli said. “[We] will be reaching out to whoever we select to be able to get feedback in regards to this process so that when, after the election, the new board will have candidates to be able to interview.”