Dysfunction out of the box

Dysfunction out of the box

Posted in the Trumbull Forum


Edison, NJ

#1 Aug 20, 2013
it was to be a meeting to discuss legal costs involved with keeping Paul Vallas as superintendent of schools and whether the board should start the groundwork for selecting its next superintendent of schools. Instead, the nine school board members spent a solid half an hour Tuesday arguing over one another on whether their meeting was legally called.

Four board members had asked for a meeting to be held on Monday but Board Chairman Kenneth Moales Jr., who was away until Sunday evening, said he didn’t have enough information to call a meeting. He argued that since only one of the four board members contacted him he wasn’t convinced all four wanted the meeting.

“Let me make myself very clear. Any board member who writes anything on behalf of other board members without contacting me because of all this litigation … I am not accepting anyone’s word,” Moales said.“I am no longer believing anyone.”

The four members who called for the meeting — Maria Pereira, Sauda Baraka, Bobby Simmons and John Bagley — had a hard time getting a word in edgewise.

Moales told the board he couldn’t call the meeting until he cleared up some questions.

“You did not call the meeting,” said Baraka

“No I called the meeting,” said Moales.

“I have the floor,” said Baraka.

“No I have the floor. You don’t have the floor,” Moales said.

Baraka told Moales a meeting could be called and held without him.

Baraka filed the notice for a Tuesday evening meeting on Monday afternoon. Moales then cancelled it after hours on Monday. By Tuesday morning, the meeting was back on, at a new time with a notice filed with the City Clerk’s office at 9:20 a.m., far shy of the 24 hour notice required under the Freedom of Information law.(City Attorney Mark Anastasi told the board an argument could be made that faxing, email or even slipping a meeting notice under the door is sufficient notice, but that is another blog).

“You calling a meeting while I am away on vacation when it relates to something as sensitive as the superintendent of schools. And saying I don’t need to be present is a ridiculous statement. Let me assure you I will be at the meeting,” Moales told her before other members chimed in with points of order.

It went downhill from there. Moales called the meeting a circus and at one point refused to recognize Simmons.

“I have a question,” Simmons said.

“I am sorry, the chair doesn’t acknowledge you,” Moales told Simmons.“It’s an illegal meeting, so why talk.”

“Mr. Mulligan can talk,” said Simmons, referring to board member Thomas Mulligan, whom Moales did recognize.

“Because he raised his hand,” said Moales.

“You are both out of order. What does this have to do about the kids,” said a frustrated board member Jacqueline Kelleher, uncharacteristically raising her voice.

The room broke into applause.

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