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Board of Education appoints emergency response coordinator

The embattled board approved the position by a razor thin margin

VIce President Christopher Munoz criticized the need for the board to have an OEM at the April meeting.

The Bayonne Board of Education has voted to create its own Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and has appointed former Deputy Police Chief Walter Rogers as the emergency response and crisis coordinator.

In his new role, Rogers will earn $65,000, and a $5,279 stipend for having armed security credentals. No other school district in New Jersey has such a position.

Superintendent of Schools John Niesz determined there was a need for the position and recommended the appointment of Rogers to the board. While Rogers was appointed, the board was split.

If it ain’t broke?

Rogers’s appointment was approved 5-4. Trustees Lisa Burke, Jan Patrick Egan, Pam Sclafane, David “Doc” Watson, and Dennis Wilbeck voted in favor. Opposed were Trustees Jodi Casais, Ava Finnerty, Vice President Christopher Munoz, and President Maria Valado.

Explaining his opposition Munoz said, “Although the applicant is commendable, I think that the layer of administration that we have here, the fact that the city of Bayonne has an OEM director as is would supersede the board’s OEM director in times of crisis and crisis management.”

Munoz added: “We have a superintendent who has a background in law enforcement and homeland security. I think he’s more than capable of handling this job.”

‘Unnecessary spending’

“This is a $65,000 position and coming back in September, we could use the $65,000 for so many other things,” Valado said. “We have a superintendent who was picked because of his security background.”

Valado reiterated that Niesz is capable of the duties that the new position would be responsible for and that there are already similar positions in place.

“We have ex-police officers in almost every single school already,” Valado said. “We have a head of security who takes care of all those ex-police officers, and he is excellent. He is also an ex-police officer. We have a superintendent who has an excellent background in homeland security. That was one of the reasons we admired him so much to come and be our superintendent.”

Valado continued: “In the situation we are in, I do not believe we need this position. I believe it is a waste of money. We’re asking you for one percent more on your taxes, and they’re offering a position of someone who’s going to sit in an office. For what? We already hired five more armed security guards for our schools. What are we doing? I’m disappointed that my board members did not think of this and believe that this is needed. It’s an unneeded position.”

In the end, the board appointed Rogers, who started May 1.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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