✅ The Jackson Township Council met to vote on ordinances making it easier for Orthodox Jewish schools to establish schools and dorms.

✅ A Jackson Liberty High School teacher was one of dozens to speak during the meeting

✅ The school superintendent  criticized the teacher but defended his right to speak

JACKSON — Jackson's school superintendent defended a Jackson Liberty High School teacher who made controversial comments at a township council meeting.

The Dec. 12 meeting was part of a settlement between the township, the U.S. Department of Justice, the state Attorney General's Office and Agudath Israel that would make it easier for Orthodox Jewish schools to establish schools and dorms.

As part of the settlement, the township agreed to adopt new policies and procedures that protect religious freedom and repeal prior ordinances that discriminated against Orthodox Jewish residents.

Residents and officials in this township have struggled to address rising animosities as the large Jewish population of neighboring Lakewood has grown into Jackson.

Backlash against changing demographics

Many residents took to the microphone during the public comment portion of the five-hour meeting, including Thomas Bradley, who introduced himself as a 34-year veteran teacher in Jackson.

"You're opening the door for the cultural genocide that has taken place in Lakewood to come here to Jackson," he said. "The town does not have the infrastructure to handle the traffic... We have to take a serious look at what these ordinances do to the town. We moved to Jackson because the education system had gone kaput in Lakewood."

Bradley said the education system will be drained if the ordinances are adopted. It will also open the town up to more lawsuits because they "cater to a specific community that excludes Christians."

His comments were met with applause from the audience.

Bradley’s wife, Lynne Bradley, is chair of the zoning board.

Jackson (Google Maps)
Jackson (Google Maps)

Comments draw criticism

Several Jewish groups issued statements condemning the statement, including Agudath Israel, which called the statement the reason for the lawsuit in the first place.

"Respectful dialogue is essential for fostering understanding and unity within our community, and we hope that moving forward, all discussions can be conducted with civility and respect for differing viewpoints," the group said in a statement.

Anti-Defamation League of New York/New Jersey Regional Director Scott Richman praised the Township Council for passing the resolution but was concerned about the tone of the meeting.

"The rhetoric used plays into classic antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories about power and influence. Given the broader context of rising antisemitism in this country we are especially concerned," Richman wrote.

Jackson welcome sign
Jackson welcome sign (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

The superintendent defended teacher's right to speak

Jackson School Superintendent Nicole Pormilli criticized Bradley's words but defended his right to say them.

"The Jackson School District and Board of Education do not condone any speech that is — or is perceived to be — anti-semitic or hateful. The district believes any reference to genocide is unacceptable. We understand the hurtful impact this word evokes," Pormilli said in a statement.

"Free speech is protected by the First Amendment. The Jackson School District subscribes to the guidance provided by the Anti-Defamation League that just as speakers have a right to express their views, school administrators have a right to express their disagreement with those words," Pormilli said in a statement.

The Lakewood Scoop was first to report Bradley's comments.

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