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Jersey City school board makes swift changes at the start of the year

The nomination and voting process took less than 10 minutes of the two hour meeting

Jersey City Board of Education reorganization meeting

The Jersey City Board of Education made some swift changes with the start of the year, nominating elected Trustee Natalia Ioffe as president and Trustee Noemi Velazquez as the vice president, in a reorganization meeting.

Trustee Lekendrick Shaw, who is also the Finance Manager for the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority, according to his LinkedIn profile, casted his nomination in favor of Trustee Gina Verdibello for Board of Ed. president but was opposed by a 5-4 vote.

Followed by Velasquez who nominated Ioffe for president, alongside members of Trustees Younass Barkouch, Christopher Tisdale, and Paula Jones-Watson in approving yes with a 5-4 vote.

“First of all, I would like to thank you very much. Thank you for your trust and I respect and acknowledge the dissenting voices and pledge to do my best to serve and advance this team towards our common goals,” Ioffe said after being sworn in as president of the board.

The Education Matters slate which has the full backing of the local teacher’s union, had sworn in members from the slate at the meeting including Chris Tisdale, Afaf Muhammad and Trustee Noemi Velazquez. The Hudson Reporter previously interviewed members of the “Education Matters” slate on some of the issues they would address once nominated for the Board of Ed.

A looming ethics complaint against Ioffe was brought up by Jersey City Education Association President Ron Greco, who said “I’m glad that you weren’t bamboozled by a former employee of this district, a former employee of the department of ed who was a state monitor,” referring to Catherine Coyle, a former district associate superintendent who filed the ethics complaint on behalf of the School Ethics Commission on November 5. “A highly skilled professional – among many other titles – that was run out of this district by the JCEA after the 1998 strike,” Greco added.

Ioffe published a letter in Hudson County View, showing her full support for the “Education Matters” team. Candidates were elected a month after the release of the letter.

“Jersey City school district continues to struggle with state funding cuts and does its best to supply our children with the resources they need for a thorough and efficient education,” said the letter first published by the Hudson County View.

The nomination and voting process took less than 10 minutes of the two hour meeting. The board adjourned the meeting and did not appoint a second vice president to the Board of Ed.

Barkouch asked Board Counsel Michael Gross as to why the board was not electing two vice presidents as they did in the previous year, and he said, “That was suspending our bylaw at that time, for that year, so we’d have two vice presidents. Right now, our bylaw doesn’t make reference to one, two, or 30. Certainly, if anyone wanted to do that at this meeting, or even at any subsequent meeting, you certainly have the ability and a right to do that and the majority of the board wants to proceed.”

The meeting was held at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School, also known as Public School No. 11, located at 886 Bergen Ave. and was also live streamed on the Jersey City Public Schools Facebook page.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Jordan Coll can be reached at jcoll@hudsonreporter.com.

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