The school board and administration were literally surrounded by critics: So many people showed up that they had to take out a partition in the wall, doubling the size of the room and letting the overflow crowd tickle into the nosebleeds.
And after some brief introductory remarks, including a slideshow presentation defending the layoffs, board members and school administration mostly sat expressionless as speaker after speaker alleged that the move was tantamount to union-busting and that the superintendent has hired too many top administrators at the expense of front-line workers.
"This is not how we do things in Highland Park," said borough resident Darcie Cimarusti, a soon-to-be board member who was elected in November.
Earlier this month, the Highland Park Board of Education laid off nine employees, including six secretaries, two literacy coaches and the school's student assistance counselor. The layoffs go into effect in January.