Board of Education: Steam roll over due process

Steam roll over due process
Hoboken Reporter 08/27/2006

Dear Editor:

Last Tuesday's School Board meeting opened with Jack Raslowsky resigning his board seat in the hope of becoming Superintendent of Schools. Then, without allowing any discussion, Board President Jimmy Farina tried to hand-pick a defeated board candidate to fill Raslowsky's seat.

When Farina finally yielded, Theresa Minutillo proposed instead a truly fair and open process to fill this and other vacancies. She argued the New Jersey School Board Association (NJSBA) supports such openness, and she offered a resolution requiring that all who applied be interviewed for the position at an open public session.

Farina reacted angrily. He shouted that the public spoke during the election; He demanded the highest losing vote getter among last year's losing candidates get the seat. But he had no explanation why that wasn't done in 2005 when Minutillo was the first runner-up!

Maggie Porratta objected, that the Board has a "lot on its plate" and didn't have the time for a "long drawn out process.' But what could be more important than choosing a new Superintendent? And how could the process be "drawn out" when Minutillo's resolution required a decision within days of the resignation taking effect?

Theresa Burns initially seemed ready to sup-port Minutillo's idea, but then, Farina 'left the podium to stand in the hall and loudly argued with Frank Raia, Jack Raslowsky, and Anthony Romano — the four women board members stayed at the table. When the men returned, quiet words were exchanged, and no further support was expressed by any-one for Minutillo's common sense proposal.
In the end Farina wouldn't even put Minutillo's resolution up for a vote. Minutillo was the only voice against filling the vacancy before advertising for candidates: Farina's conduct was arbitrary and arrogant, but the voters will have their say in April, on the replacement – and on Farina.

So why make a fuss over business as usual? Because this board is about to make the biggest decision it ever will: who will be the next Superintendent?

The Board has hired the NJSBA to conduct a "nationwide" Superintendent search. The Board claims that this time they will be guided by the NJSBA's fair process – the one they ignored in replacing a board member.

But Raslowsky just resigned his because he openly covets that position – apparently the law won't let him become Superintendent for six months after he leaves the board. Maybe he knows something we don't? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain'..- the public is bet ter served when the public pays attention.

There was a public forum two weeks ago on choosing a new Superintendent. It was excellent and informative – but it was poorly advertised and only 10 people came. Another forum is promised for September. If you care about the schools, or taxes, or property values, or quality of life in Hoboken, try to make the time to find out what's going on.

Our community deserves great schools - and only we can make them happen.

Michael Lenz

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