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Five Hours Behind Closed Doors, Seventeen Minutes of Face Time

PERTH AMBOY — The Perth Amboy Board of Education had a special meeting on Tuesday, February 5, 6 p.m. at Perth Amboy High School. After the Pledge of Allegiance, reading of the Public Notice, the reading of the Special Meeting Announcement and roll call, the Board Members went into an Executive Closed Session. That session lasted from 6:05 p.m. until 10:51 p.m.

When the Board returned from behind closed doors to resume the public portion of the meeting Board Members Obi Gonzalez and Milady Tejada did not return.

When the meeting resumed, President Mark Carvajal stated, “No formal action will be taken tonight.” The purpose of the Executive Closed Session was to discuss personnel matters and matters involving the litigation against the Superintendent.

While the closed session was taking place, some of the Board Members had to recuse themselves. Board Member Israel Varela had to leave the meeting because of discussion that involved the Richardson School where his wife is a teacher.

Superintendent Dr. Janine Walker Caffrey also had to excuse herself from the closed session when discussions involving her came up.

Board of Education President Mark Carvajal also appeared in the auditorium during the closed session to talk to some students enrolled in an Honor Program. Those students were there because there was a problem they were having and they wanted the Board and the public to hear their concerns.

Board President Mark Carvajal gave the student’s representative his personal contact information and also asked for theirs so he could get back in touch with them asap.

Board Member Israel Varela also spoke to the students while he was away from the closed session. Carvajal knew that the closed session was going to be long and did not want the students to be there that late.

Some of the students lingered at the meeting in spite of being told of the length of the closed session.

During the public portion of the meeting two people spoke.

One of the speakers was Reinaldo Aviles. He spoke referring to the length of the closed session. Aviles said, “I feel for you guys, being in a meeting for a long time. But how productive can you be? I’m not saying that you weren’t productive during the meeting but your brains have to be fried.” Avelis named Board at least one Board Member who has to get up early and travel quite a distance to get to their job on time.

“It’s not courteous have people wait so long. Maybe you should break it up into several meetings instead of one long one. You have a list of goals displayed behind you on a screen. But how many of those goals did you accomplish? Kids were here to discuss a topic and they had to leave because of the late hour. If it’s about the kids, why wasn’t there a break to have them heard? It’s up to the Board President to do this.”

Stanley Sierakowski brought up the Inter-district School choice for public school students that he discussed at the previous Board Meeting. He said that the program was posted on the Board of Education Website at one time but it was no longer there. “Did Middlesex County choose not to participate?”

As the meeting was going into adjournment, Board Member Israel Varela raised his hand to make a last minute remark.

Board President Mark Carvajal said, “The meeting has already been adjourned.”

Varela was able to get a quick comment in. In response to Sierakowski’s remark. Varela said, “Students in Middlesex County are participants in this program.”

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