These four candidates seek to replace the late Alfred Davis on Montclair school board
By TALIA WIENER
Four candidates — Brian Fleischer, Mfreke (Monk) Inyang, Richard Reynics and Aminah Toler — will be interviewed in the coming weeks to fill the late Alfred Davis Jr.’s seat on the Montclair Board of Education.
The candidates will be interviewed publicly during a Jan. 12 virtual, special meeting of the board and Jan. 19 during a regularly scheduled board meeting.
The seat will next be up for election this fall, under the schedule set after Montclair voters opted to convert the township’s Type I district with a mayor-appointed board to a Type II with an elected one. Whoever is selected will serve the remainder of the current term, until January of 2023, but could also run for reelection in that race.
Brian Fleischer is a district parent and former Montclair school district employee who is active in Montclair’s parent teacher associations.
From 2013 to 2016, Fleischer was the district’s business administrator and board secretary. He is now one of the vice presidents of the Montclair PTA Council, and the PTA president at Glenfield Middle School. He has also served as the Hillside School PTA president, according to his LinkedIn profile.
In a Montclair Local Letter to the Editor written in October, Fleischer wrote about his experience in the district and why he supported an elected board.
“For three years from 2013 to 2016, I was myself a prime actor in the district’s budget and facilities planning as business administrator,” Fleischer wrote in the letter. “My greatest regret from those years is that the district was unable to drive sufficient investment in our aging school buildings and infrastructure or to adequately modernize our instructional spaces.”
Since 2017, Fleischer has been the director of internal audit for the New York City School Construction Authority, according to his LinkedIn profile. For more than a decade, he worked as auditor general for the New York City Department of Education.
Fleischer has also served as a member of the Montclair NAACP’s education committee since July 2020, according to the LinkedIn profile.
In an email message to Montclair Local Friday, he said public schools were his passion.
"In addition to making my career in the field of K-12 public education operations, finance and risk, I have a lifelong connection with and commitment to the Montclair Public Schools" through his various roles, he wrote. "I love these schools and this Montclair community and want to be a part of making them the best they can be for all students."
Inyang is a father of two from Newark who has spent his career working in investor relations while always making time for creative endeavors, according to a bio on his website. He currently works as the marketing strategy and Finance Director for Michelob ULTRA at Anheuser-Busch, according to his LinkedIn profile. Inyang has also written two middle-grade novels — “The Skeleton King” and “The Oracle’s Blessing.”
He told Montclair Local he and his wife have lived in Montclair for the past four years, and they have two children at Charles H. Bullock School. He's helped lead the Bullock PTA for two years, as its vice president and then president roles. He's also led the Bullock community in its annual day of education and service, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
"I come from a background of service and activism, organizing protests and starting a student-run newspaper with fellow high schoolers calling for change in Newark when the city refused to listen to our voices," he wrote in an email to Montclair Local. "My goal is to combine that spirit of advocacy and social justice with my corporate experience in strategy and finance to help the board develop broad strategies that include the voices of all stakeholders and are supported by transparent budgetary plans."
Richard Reynics is a father of three who grew up in Clifton. He moved to Montclair in 2019.
“I don't come into this with any detailed agenda, other than a commitment to work collaboratively with the board and the community, to be open-minded and listen, and to hopefully help us collectively reach the right decisions,” Reynics said.
Reynics is the managing director and global Head of Sales Operations and Intelligence for Institutional Shareholder Services. From 2005 to 2007, he served on the Hardyston Township Board of Education.
“I've put my name forward for this appointment because this is a time of transition for the district and for the board, so if my past experience as a public school board member can be of any help during this time, I'm glad to serve,” Reynics said.
Toler is a graduate of the Montclair Public School system who is active in the Montclair community.
“I have to acknowledge it is bittersweet because the circumstances that led to this need, the passing of Dr. Davis, is a big loss to our entire community,” Toler said. “Given the opportunity I will do my best to serve our children and community in the professional and excellent manner he did."
Toler is among the founding members of Montclair Mutual Aid, and a former community health worker for the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence. She is also a part-time employee of Montclair Local, working in the nonprofit news organization’s membership department.
”I’ve always been committed to my community,” Toler said. “I believe I can be an asset in this transition and work with the current board members to ensure our students and families are getting the best education possible.”
Davis died Dec. 2 — making the effective deadline under state law to fill his seat Feb. 5.
The day prior to his death, the board approved a March election to fill another two seats on the board, added in the conversion to a Type II system.
Davis’ term, along with board president Latifah Jannah’s and vice president Priscilla Church’s, would have expired in May 2022 under the Type I system. Those terms will be extended to meet an adjusted cycle for the Type II system, with elections in November and new terms beginning in January 2023. From there on out, three members will be elected each November as well, for terms beginning the following January.
This article has been updated to add more details about candidates as they sent further responses to Montclair Local, and to correctly state that Aminah Toler is a former community health worker with the MFEE.