Deatte Gettinger, Montgomery School Board Candidate
By Barbara A. Preston | Posted September 28, 2023
Deatte Gettinger of Belle Mead is running on the "Respecting Parents" Platform with John A. Sangiovanni and Santi Buscemi for one of three open seats on the Montgomery /Rocky Hill Board of Education. Also competing for a seat on the board are incumbents: Victoria “Cookie” Franco-Herman, Christina Harris, and Zelda Spence Wallace. They are running together on a platform titled "Champions for Students." Election day is November 7.
Deatte Gettinger, Belle Mead resident Psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner, educator
Gettinger participated in a Q&A with the Montgomery News. Below are her answers, in her words.
Why are you running for school board?
“It is important to be informed of our district’s activities, both academically and financially. The BOE’s purpose is to improve school’s performance while also aligning these goals with the taxpayers’ expectations. I have been attending BOE meetings to gain more information regarding what my children are learning, exposed to and required to read, only to be met with vague responses. I can fulfill the mission of the BOE as well as bring much needed transparency and better communication to the community, especially to parents who feel their voices are not being heard.”
What do you consider to be the three most important challenges facing the Montgomery school district at this time?
“Over recent years our school ratings and rankings have been falling while our tax obligations and family expenditures on tutoring and college prep are rising. These measures of our schools’ effectiveness are indicative of academic value for our tax dollars. Most of Montgomery tax dollars go toward our educational system, which should translate to high-quality services resulting in robust education.
“Expenditures need to be continually reassessed to assure resources are allocated for successful student outcomes. Ensuring the schools have the best resources and guidance to ensure success for every student who attends our school system.”
Parental Rights: Should the Montgomery School Board adopt a policy that requires teachers to provide alternative books in case a parent objects to a particular book that has been selected and vetted by the school administrators? Why or why not?
“We are a town of many diverse backgrounds, religions, and cultures. We need to be inclusive to the diversity in our community and respect their views.
Some families are not comfortable with the sexual content, violence, and profanity that some books contain. The BOE should adopt a policy that assists school administrators to provide alternative books with similar academic themes in case a parent objects.
Children should feel comfortable reading books they can relate to and see themselves reflected. This is how we can be different yet achieve the same goal, while meeting the needs of the individual child.”
Should the Montgomery School Board adopt a policy that requires school staff to notify parents of the children’s gender identity and sexual orientation? For example when gender-nonconforming students wish to change their names, be called by new pronouns, or request other accommodations.
“The Montgomery Board of Education should adopt a policy that requires school staff to notify parents of their children’s gender identity and sexual orientation. Schools are a resource, not for withholding vital information about our children. This pits parents against the school staff. Who knows our children best?
As parents we always wish happiness and health for our children. We should be a support to our children and act in concert with each other. This should not be done in secrecy. Instead of bringing everyone together, this divides everyone, which is not in the best interest of the child.”
What professional and personal experiences have prepared you for serving on the board?
“I have a unique background that incorporates two different modalities. I have worked many years as a psychiatric practitioner. I am adept at evaluating situations and providing a remedy and maintaining clear communication with medical professionals, patients, and families. I believe in being attentive: When you listen you can help people gain personal insight and resolve conflict. I also served as executive director for a nonprofit many years ago. These skills can bring a level and even approach to conflict as well as the ability to assess/resolve financial discord within the district.
I am married and a mother of three children. My oldest just graduated from MHS. I have one going into 9th grade and one into 2nd grade."
The success of Montgomery Schools impacts everyone in Montgomery and Rocky Hill, whether they have a student enrolled in the district, have a home whose value is impacted, or both. What do you propose to improve transparency and community involvement?
“Transparency is imperative for success. It is required regarding the success of the Honors and AP classes. For years, parents have raised their concerns regarding these courses as well as the issues with the science department. To this day they have not been addressed properly. Also, not all the books read to our children have been approved by the BOE. Teachers should be clear on the books that they are reading or asking the children to read in the classroom." ■