Our Response to Regina Tuma’s Letter In the Montclair Times Denying That She’s AssessmentGate

The Montclair Times has published a letter to the editor from Regina Tuma, in which she responds to our investigation of released emails that we found revealed she was behind the AssessmentGate leaks and attacks. In the letter, she responds that she is not, in fact, AssessmentGate, and claims to have a letter (which Tuma has since posted on the MCAS facebook site) from an ACLU attorney certifying that she is not AssessmentGate.

In the interest of fairness, here’s her letter, in full:

MSW (mis)information campaign

It has come to my attention that Montclair Schools Watch (MSW), a pro-PARCC anonymous blog in town has mistakenly identified me as the anonymous blogger known as “Assessmentgate.” The MWS blog goes a step further and accuses Assessmentgate/me of activity that borders on the criminal, that of leaking “PARCC test files.”

The MSW blog, which asks for civility and decries intimidation in the discourse about public schools, calls out my “hypocrisy and my “lies” to The Montclair Times, stating that “she [Tuma] is actually AssessmentGate.”

However, the blogger known as Assessmentgate does not want me to take credit for his/her persona. I am currently in possession of a letter from Jeanne LoCicero, the ACLU attorney who represented Assessmentgate during the overreaching and expensive subpoenas issued by the Board of Education in 2013, legally certifying that, “As we both know, you [Tuma] are not Assessmentgate.”

Given these serious factual errors by MSW, one wonders what other misinformation this anonymous blog, using civility as a battle cry, is disseminating for the sake of silencing critics of unpopular PARCC reforms.

Regina Tuma

Montclair

The letter Tuma references from the ACLU has been posted on the MCAS page, and given the letter and Tuma’s insistence, we’ll take her at her word. In our reporting on this we obviously want to be as accurate as possible, and so with it appearing that we may not be fully accurate here, we’ll be updating our prior post to reflect this new information.

That said, Tuma’s letter actually makes things more confusing. We’ll take her at her word that she’s not AssessmentGate, but we wonder then why Michelle Fine sent emails saying she was? In the first email we posted, she made clear reference to that. And the second seemed to confirm that – with AssessementGate replying directly to an email sent to Tuma and Cary Chevat. Our reporting was based solely on what we read in the emails, and Tuma’s denial leaves us wondering if it wasn’t Chevat who was behind this.

So, forgive us for being confused by the mess of various political plotters and personas that make up Tuma and Fine’s world. It’s possible that we are wrong and that Tuma actually has nothing to do with posting on the AssessmentGate account – a possibility that we left open in our post in saying that Tuma was behind the attacks but maybe multiple people are posting. And the emails, at the very least, certainly confirm that – if Tuma and/or Chevat aren’t actually making the AssessmentGate postings, they’re certainly coordinating and directing them. And in that sense, they – and Michelle Fine through them – are still the ones behind the attacks that came from AssessmentGate. Unfortunately, the email correspondence on these issues that was released doesn’t go back as far as the leaks, so it’s hard to know what their role and participation was in those at the time.

Either way, if it wasn’t Tuma posting the attacks herself, it was her directing someone else to. And if she wasn’t the one who posted the leaked material herself, she may well have provided it to them. Without a doubt, we know that she was closely tied to guiding their attacks, and so was clearly “behind” them, as we said, even if she may not actually be AssessmentGate herself.

And that’s important, because while her letter focused heavily on the questions of civility and hypocrisy that our reporting raised, her denial does nothing to change the facts there. If it turns out she wasn’t posting the attacks herself, certainly, she was directing them. And so the hypocrisy of her comments about a reasonable and respectful discourse – and the details of the sort of scorched earth campaign that she and Fine have run to divide our community – remains clear.

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