Students, parents say Piscataway school psychologist was fired for advocating for LGBTQ+ students
A Middlesex County school district’s decision to fire one of its psychologists has students and parents calling on the board to reconsider.
The Piscataway School Board decided not to grant tenure to one of its school psychologists. Those opposed to the firing are citing retaliation for the psychologist advocating for LGBTQ+ students and inclusive curriculum.
Parents, students, teachers and members of the Piscataway community descended on the school board meeting Thursday night to speak up against the Board of Education's decision to deny tenure to T. Schor Middle School’s psychologist Dr. Cassia Mosdell.
“This was not expected in any way and this should not be,” says activist Sherry Wolf. “We see what’s going on in Florida, ‘Don’t Say Gay’ there. Is this going to come to Piscataway now?”
Mosdell worked at T. Schor Middle School for four years, making her eligible for tenure. Her supporters say she was let go after organizing a Day of Silence where students take a vow of silence symbolizing the silencing of the LGBTQ+ students and raising awareness about homophobic and transphobic bullying.
Mosdell did not attend the meeting because she was out sick with COVID-19, but she released a statement that said in part, "I feel the district is sending the wrong message to our youth - that they should not advocate on these issues or speak out. I'm simply not willing to let that stand."
New Jersey passed a law last year requiring diversity and inclusion education in grades K-12. Some educators say that the move by the Piscataway School Board is the same as eliminating African American history or Jewish history.
“As a history teacher, I’m acutely aware of what is mandated for us teaching and this curriculum is,” says Yvette Jordan, of the Newark Education Workers Caucus.
Several Piscataway parents started a petition in support of Mosdell and urged the school superintendent and the Board of Education to renew Mosdell’s contract.
News 12 New Jersey reached out to the superintendent for comment, but did not hear back. The attorney for the school board said they did not have a comment.