Members of on Monday asked the Board of Education to overturn its earlier vote to move school elections to , saying the board has some ethical problems with its vote two weeks ago.
First, they say, the board did not give the public fair notice of the vote and secondly, three of the members who voted in favor of the move are up for re-election and had a conflict of interest and should recuse themselves.
Jeff Diecidue and Josh Scharf, both members of the group, asked the board to rescind their vote from two weeks ago and put the question to a public vote in April.
They also suggested that if the board refused to do that, WeLoveMillburn, a grassroots community organization, would have no choice but to file an ethics violation charge against the Board of Ed.
“Your resolution is totally deficient, infirm and invalid,” Decidue said. “And maybe we’ll have to take steps to prove it and enjoin you from going forward and changing the election. But I’m hoping this board will say, ‘We made a mistake, let’s redo it.’
“Or better yet, let’s let the public decide whether it wants to move the election and lose the right to vote on the budget. If you’re so confident, what are you afraid of?”
Board members did not respond to either Decidue or Scharf and no one brought up the possibility of reversing the vote.
“I would ask the board, in the spirit of fairness, to go back out and wait a year as have a number of district,
After the meeting, board members Sam Levy and , who are up for re-election this year, wondered whether the board could even reverse the vote, but did just that last week.
They also said that after six years on the board, neither of them wants to stay longer, but felt a responsibility to see that the negotiations with teachers come to a satisfactory end.
The meeting two weeks ago was the focus much of Monday night’s meeting – not only because of the vote, but because of the lack of decorum and civility between board members and the public.
Superintendent Dr. James Crisfield opened Monday night’s meeting admonishing everyone in the room for the behavior exhibited at the last meeting and reiterated that while there is always room for criticism and disagreement, participants must serve as role models to the children they are all there for.
"Civility is not negotiable," he said, adding later, “I ask that you remember why we are here," he said. "It's not for entertainment ... or blood sport."
At the end of the meeting, Jean Pasternak referred to another discussion that took place two weeks ago regarding her involvement in the special education committee.
At that meeting Pasternak asked whether she could get questions answered about special education transitions, but Board Member Eric Siegel declined to answer the questions because he was unsure of how much information she could legally have since she had recused herself from the committee several weeks ago.
On the advice of the board’s attorney, Pasternak recused herself from the committee because she was named as a witness in a pending lawsuit against the district regarding a special ed student.
At the last board meeting, when Pasternak asked if she would get answers to her questions, Board President Michael Birnberg asked her if she felt she was privy to information that could be confidential.
“I’m completely speechless at your question…maybe you should talk to the board attorney to clarify for you what guidelines she placed upon me in recusing myself from the committee before you broaden it to say I’m not allowed to ask a question and get an answer as any board member would.”
Pasternak said she was trying to bring up issues raised by a group of special ed parents and the questions had nothing to do with the case or the reason she recused herself.
She asked that the board get the attorney to clarify why recusing herself from that committee would hinder her role as a board member.
On Monday night, she said she wanted to address “my fellow board members regarding their attacks on my integrity…their attempts to suppress my right to express my First Amendment rights and to hold back my determination to hold our administrators accountable.”
She said a friend sent her a quote of encouragement after the last meeting that read, “ ‘Champions have the courage to keep turning the pages because they know a better chapter lies ahead,’" she said. “And I hope that’s true for this board and myself on this board.”