Essex County tech schools also plan to divest from Wells Fargo

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. and the Essex County Schools of Technology District jointly announced Aug. 15 that the school district will be following Essex County’s lead and will be closing its accounts with Wells Fargo. The county executive asked the school district to sever its ties with the bank to show a united front in Essex County’s protest against Wells Fargo’s alleged predatory lending and aggressive foreclosure practices.

“I am pleased that the school district is supporting our actions against Wells Fargo and taking steps to withdraw its funds from the bank. Our message becomes that much stronger when we stand together,” DiVincenzo said in the Aug. 15 press release. “County government and our schools of technology represent and support our residents, and together we are sending a clear message that we only want to do business with banks that demonstrate they are good neighbors and are willing to work with us to strengthen our community.”

Essex County began the process of closing its accounts with Wells Fargo in mid-June, and DiVincenzo publicly announced Essex County was ending its relationship with the bank on Aug. 8. Essex County had approximately $3.8 million with Wells Fargo.

“We applaud the county executive for taking this position and found it very easy to support him,” Essex County Schools of Technology Superintendent James Pedersen said in the release. “While the county executive is speaking for Essex County residents, the school district is speaking for our students who see and understand how this affects their neighborhoods. There are other more reputable banking institutions we can do business with that can provide us with first-class service and more peace of mind.”

The Schools of Technology board unanimously voted to support DiVincenzo’s request. The school district is now starting the process of soliciting proposals from various banks. The district has approximately $16 million with Wells Fargo.