HOBOKEN -- With a school board election less than a month away, various loud arguments broke out at the Hoboken school board meeting Tuesday night.
The board is divided into two factions. The board majority is controlled by Kids First, which also has a slate of three people running in the November election. The board minority is allied with the Move Forward slate.
The Somerset Messenger Gazette reported on Monday that the Franklin Township schools in Hunterdon County approved a 90-day agreement to share their business administrator with Hoboken. Hoboken would pay 75 percent of Dr. Carole Frederick's annual salary of $133,500 (prorated for the 90 days). She would serve seven out of every 10 days in Hoboken and attend both districts' board meetings.
The Hoboken school board discussed the matter in closed session last night. But it was other heated matters that resulted in loud arguments in open session.
The Kids First majority and the Move Forward minority were at each other's throats largely over personnel issues.
The meeting only let out at 1 a.m. after an hour of fighting.
At the meeting, the board voted to reinstate teacher Judy Burrell as the head track coach at Hoboken High School. The board had previously declined to reappoint her in a surprise move over the summer, and the administration and board members had refused to comment on the reasons. To this day, the reasons have not been made public.
Tuesday night, when the board came out of closed session, the Kids First majority voted to reappoint her -- but this did not sit well with members of the board's smaller faction, who claimed that in closed session, one of the Kids First majority board members had agreed to switch sides and vote with them to table the matter and advertise the position.
When the board voted, Move Forward-allied members charged that Ruth McAllister, a Kids First member, had agreed during closed session to vote with them.
Move Forward-allied board members Carmelo Garcia and Maureen Sullivan appeared shocked at McAllister's vote.
Garcia publicly charged that McAllister only changed her mind at the last minute because Kids First-allied board member Rose Marie Markle isn't talking to her. Garcia said that McAllister had said as much in closed session.
McAllister said that this wasn't true.
Garcia then held up a piece of paper on which he claimed McAllister had written it.
While the results of a closed session are usually tape recorded, they are generally not available to the public until all matters discussed have been resolved, and sometimes not even then.
Burrell is a member of the Hoboken Housing Authority and is allied with supporters of Kids First.
Also at the meeting, 3rd Ward councilman Michael Russo, who has been volunteering physical therapy services to the football team for close to 12 years, was the center of one of the controversies.
Russo is allied with Move Forward, the minority board members.
Russo spoke at the meeting, saying that he was told a month ago that he had to submit certain information in order to continue volunteering. He said that he did so, but on Tuesday night, his name was the only name not on the agenda for volunteer approval. He asked if the omission was politically motivated.
When he didn't get his questions answered, a war of words ensued.
Superintendent Mark Toback said the issue should be discussed in private.
Several of the debates at the meeting were followed by face-to-face arguments after the meeting ended.
For a more detailed story on these matters, watch for the print edition this weekend, and keep watching hudsonreporter.com.