No one realized that there would be fireworks at the Dec. 3 Orange Board of Ed meeting at Race Brook School
The meeting started with the Pledge of Allegiance and reading of the Board of Ed Mission Statement.
Vice-Chairman Jody Dietch was sitting in for the vacationing Board Chairman Jeanne Consiglio, and in the presence of a half dozen or more elementary school students, she announced the opening of the public participation portion of the meeting.
Immediately former vice chairman Keith Marquis jumped in, stating that the board elections taken in November were illegal.
He quoted by-laws explaining that the elections are to take place in December not November and that board members whose terms begin in December could not rightfully vote on such things in November
He moved for a new election, which was seconded by another board member.
Within the bylaws Dietch found a section that specified the second Monday in November was correct.
Marquis persisted that there is supposed to be an annual meeting and a regular meeting, yet the board only had a regular meeting but no annual meeting with a separate agenda.
Board member Deb Marino questioned why this concern wasn’t brought up at the last meeting.
Upon further examination of the board bylaws, Dietch said the two — the one by which the board held its election and the one to which Marquis brought attention — were contradictory to one another. At this point the children in attendance began to squirm in their seats and adults also became uncomfortable.
Dietch said the issue should be held over until the January meeting.
Marino made a motion to appeal, 2/3 of the board approved it, and then Marquis made a motion to add the election to the agenda.
18 minutes into the meeting the Racebrook School sixth grade students offered a presentation on Computers On Wheels (COWS) in their classroom, each telling how he or she utilizes the equipment.
The presentation concluded with an explanation of how they will create a Public Service Announcement using the COWS in the future.
Kevin McNabola presented the projects for which the town will need to obtain $14.5 Million bonding — 23% is the state reimbursable rate for school projects.
Here is the LINK to the Bonding Slideshow Presentation
Back to the Election Question
With the Election back on the agenda, Dietch stated that after having obtained a copy of the prior month’s agenda, The November month’s meeting was listed as an annual meeting, therefore it was a legal meeting.
Deb Marino questioned The date on which it fell, and Dietch quickly answered that the calendar had been approved by the board.
Marquis said the board voted to re-do the election, and Dietch said they voted after receiving misinformation that it was an illegal meeting, so … NO, no more meetings to clarify anything. The meeting was legal, the election vote stands.
Marquis appealed her ruling and it was seconded.
Board member Sue Falvey then gave Marquis a tongue lashing stating she was upset that he decided to blindside Consiglio by bringing up the issue when the chairman was on vacation.
“I know what you’re up to, I know what you’re doing. You want the vote right now,” she said. “She needs to be here, that’s the bottom line.”
Falvey went on to say that she voted for Consiglio as chairman.
Marquis answered with, “You can still vote for her.”
Falvey snapped back, “You filled me in that you know what the numbers are going to be, how everyone will vote … you know you’re going to win, and you know she’s going to lose … she needs to be here.”
Marquis said the board has a policy against personal attacks on individuals and if it is going to be discussed it should be done in executive session or in a special meeting.
Dietch said, why not have elections in a special meeting when the whole board can be here.
Addressing Marquis, Falvey said, ” You just brought our dirty laundry out here for everyone to see.”
To which Marquis calmly retorted, “I didn’t make any mention of anything until you decided to throw it out.”
Dietch jumped in, “I do believe that the entire board should be here. I don’t believe that Jeannie knew that anyone was planning to…..”
Falvey completed the sentence, “…..Blindside her.”
Dietch continued, “… bring this issue up. We have documentation showing that it was a legal meeting and I don’t believe these elections should be held.”
“I think it’s a shame that the current climate in the town has done everything in its power to make this board political, which it never was,” Dietch said. “I think it’s a shame that the focus is being taken off of what we’re here for, which is the children of this town and not to be a political board.”
“The fact that you are trying to make it a political board — AND YOU ARE — don’t deny that … is a shame,” Dietch said to Marquis. “I’ve been on this board longer than almost everybody here and the same time as you Keith and you know darn well what I’m talking about.”
“I think it’s a shame, I don’t see why it can’t wait until the January meeting. Obviously the votes are not here to override your appeal,” Dietch said.
“I think it’s a shame what you are all doing and if you think the election was illegal there’s no reason it can’t wait till the January meeting.”
Board Member Amy Criscuolo said that the board should seek a legal opinion before proceeding.
Falvey moved to have it carried over to the January meeting, which Criscuolo seconded.
Marquis said he wanted to have some discussion.
Addressing Dietch, he said, “You said I’m making this political… you should look back at the last election and see what happened there. Historically the Chairman has been from one party and the vice chair from another but that was thrown to the wind last month by whatever deals you made….”
Dietch answered, “There were no deals, I didn’t even know I was being nominated.”
The atmosphere did not get any nicer, people who were present compared it to the contentious boards from the late 90s early 2000s.
Each board member received three pieces of different colored paper.
Nominations were taken for Chairman: there were two — Keith Marquis and Jeannie Consiglio —result, 6-3 in favor of Marquis
For Vice Chairman: Jody Dietch and Bill Kraut nominated— result, 6-3 in favor of Kraut.
Secretary: Deb Marino and Amy Criscuolo nominated —result, 6-3 in favor of Marino.
For those who are not Political,
The November election had an Independent (D) as Chairman, Democrat as Vice Chair and Republican as Secretary.
The New Election has a Republican as Chairman, Independent (R) as Vice Chair and Republican as Secretary.
Originally published Dec. 5