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Board Members Question Legality of Meeting 12/20/12

PERTH AMBOY — Six Candidates were interviewed for the vacant seat held by Kurt Rebovich who resigned to accept a state job.

Board Member Mark Carvajal

Board Member Mark Carvajal said, “Because the Board is in a lame duck session, I object and abstain from this meeting because I believe it is illegal. This may open us up to a future lawsuit.”

Board Member Dianne Roman and Board Vice-President Ken Puccio recused themselves from participating in the decision making process.

The Board of Education Attorney said she did look into holding this meeting to replace the vacancy. She continued that, “A court ruling allowed remaining Board Members to make appointments.”

Earlier in the meeting, several students in the school system were recognized for attaining perfect stores on the State Assessments.

AFT President Donna Chiera brought up the fact that even adults couldn’t pass this test. “We recognize athletes with award dinners. We should do more to recognize students academic achievements.”

Board Member Israel Varela said, “Maybe we can do something as the Board to recognize students with high scores. I’m glad that Ms. Chiera brought this out about student academics not being recognized.”

Board Member Israel Varela

Varela was also disgusted to what was done to Assistant Superintendent Dr. Vivian Rodriguez. She was removed from sitting with the other Board Members during the meetings.

Outgoing Board President Sam Lebreault told Varela, “You are right. The Board decides who sits with the Board.”

The Board Attorney cautioned Varela, “We will discuss this in closed sessions.”

This caused Varela to remark, “Did I break any laws?”

During the public portion, Ana Mascenik thanked Lebreault and Janelle Rodriguez for their service and stated, “Mr. Massopust was a great choice for a new Board Member and he has a great love for children.” She also referred to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut and wondered if some employees can have concealed weapons.

Board Vice-President Ken Puccio said, “There are retired police officers employed in the school system.”

Resident Alan Silber also said that, “Mr. Massopust was a good choice,” and he also said to Janelle Rodriguez, “You were excellent and it broke my heart when you decided not to run.” Silber wanted to know what is the status of Superintendent Dr. Janine Walker-Caffrey’s job.

President Sam Lebreault said, “It’s still pending and there will be another ruling in February 2013.

Teacher Lynn Audet from the Richardson School thanked Lebreault and Janelle Rodriguez for their service. “I also congratulate Mr. Massopust, Obi Gonzalez and Kenneth Puccio. I also want to thank Varela for bringing up the fact about Dr. Vivian Rodriguez being removed.”

Another resident, Stanley Sierakowski said, “Sam Lebreault brought integrity and transparency back to the Board. Past Board Members were here during the insurance fraud.” Sierakowski also congratulated Massopust for being appointed to the Board.

Sierakowski stated that the Board still needs to have audits and proper vettings done of candidates intending to run for the Board of Education. “Another Board Member in the past resigned after being vetted.”

Leslie Dominguez-Rodriguez thanked Lebreault and Janelle Rodriguez and congratulated Massopust on his appointment, “But moving elections to November was a bad decision.” She also remarked to Lebreault, “Sam, I hope you can come back.”

Before leaving the podium Leslie Dominguez-Rodriguez also said, “Assistant Superintendent Dr. Vivian Rodriguez should be seated up here. (Up with the Board Members) It’s disgraceful what Caffrey did to Dr. Rodriguez.”

Later in the meeting AFT President Donna Chiera said, “I was puzzled because one of our members said she got a letter that says she will be discussed in closed session.” Chiera also said, “The AFT lawyer was here, but there was no discussion about the union member during the closed session portion. When Board President Sam Lebreault said that he was unaware of any letter, the AFT lawyer quickly produced one.

At that point the Board said, “We will have to go back to closed session to discuss that matter.”

PTO Member Donna Stewart thanked the Board for what they’ve done. “I’ve been coming to the Board of Education Meeting for eight years.” She also stated, “We as blacks are not represented on the Board of Education or City Council. We need to think about the minority within the minority and we need to pray for our students. I am a concerned parent. When I speak about problems that my child has, I am also speaking for other children as well.”

In final remarks outgoing Board Member Janelle Rodriguez said, “It was an eye-opening year for me.” She told parents that parental involvement is very important. To the students, “Take education seriously and take advantage of tutoring, the Board Members and all resources. I also want to thank the teachers for the involvement that you have with your students. Hang in there. You are appreciated. I also want to thank my fellow Board Members for their support.” Janelle Rodriguez who also has children in the school system told those in attendance that she also will be furthering her education.

Board President Sam Lebreault commended the children who were in the High School play this year.

Vice-President Kenneth Puccio also remembered former Police Officer Bobby Carter. Puccio said, “He was a great guy. Rest in peace.”

Board Member Obi Gonzalez wanted to know the status of the insurance company fraud suit. The Board Attorney said, “It is still in discovery.” Gonzalez also wanted to know about the $39 million from the State.

Board Secretary Derek Jess smiled and said, “It is still intact. We have regenerated existing funds. This has brought us up to $65 million. Special needs Grants and Title 1 Programs are also down by the Federal Government.”

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