HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ -- After the annual Student Takeover and two presentations, the Hasbrouck Heights Board of Education got down to regular business at the May meeting, including the revised Drug Policy, asbestos removal, new hires, approval of 2019-20 school calendar, purchasing contacts, and brusque public comments.
$17,737 for bleachers for the soccer field to be funded by the Hitchcock Field Soccer Renovation Shared Services agreement with the Borough;
$43,685 for the girls and boys locker room floors in the high school and middle school;
$3,950 for asbestos removal for Euclid and Lincoln schools office and classroom renovations;
$24,457 for project monitoring of asbestos abatement.
It was explained during the Public Hearing, that the asbestos abatement and monitoring is being done in conjunction with the construction and moving of the elementary schools' offices and classrooms. The construction will begin the during the summer break when school is not in session, according to Dina Messery, School Administrator.
The district approved the renewal of several technology contracts including Blackboard Inc. ($14.000), Naviance (8,857.50), Genesis ($31.200), Realtime Information Technology ($8,985), Linkit Advanced Assessment Systems ($25,725), Strauss Esmay Association ($4,685.) In addition, it leased with Dell Fancncial Services Dell Chromebook lease for three years at $56,743.21.
Two new positions were approved for the district. A Supervisor of 6 to 12 Guidance and Student Programming, and Supervisor of Instruction and Program for Pre K to 5th grade. According to Dr. Matthew Helfant, those positions are already accounted for and will not affect the budget.
The Board approved Wellness Awareness during PE classes on Friday June 7, and the district calendar for the 2019-20 school year.
The Board included a first Reading of the Substance Abuse Policy, #5530, which according to Dina Messery, Business Administrator, "the whole policy was revised."
Under New Business, which became a point of contention during the Open Public Hearing, the Board directed "the Board Attorney to file a petition with the Commissioner of Education, New Jersey Department of Education to determine the disqualification of Lauren Terranova from membership on the Board of Education pursuant to N.J.S.A 18A:12-2, as a result of filing a complaint against the Board of Education, captioned: Christopher Terranova, As a parent and legal guardian of his minor children, C.T. and G.T, Plaintiff v. Borough of Hasbrouck Heights, Hasbrouck Heights School District, Police Chief Michael Colaneri in his individual and official capacitiies, Officer Harold Van Winkle, in his individual and official capacities, Dr. Matthew Helfant, in his individual and official capacities, which ws served on the Board on May 21, 2019."
Michael Warren, president of the Hasbrouck Heights Education Assocation, thanked the everyone for events of Teacher Appreciation Week.
"It was amazing, it was phenomonal," he said. "The parents, PTA, volunteers, thank you for making us feel appreciated, in particular for that week, but all year long as well."
Parent Antonette Vignola prefaced her question with, "I know you can't answer this question...but did you disqualify a Board member because there was a complaint about an officer put his baton on her child...can you disqalify her?"
Board Attorney Jessika Kleen said they couldn't answer the question but offered a clarification.
"The Board cannot talk about anybody," said Kleen. "The petition comes from the Commissioner. The Commissioner will decide whether or not is was a disqualifying event."
She said it's nothing that the Board decides, but something that the Commissioner decides, and they were unable to discuss it further.
"Lauren Terranova is probably the most qualified out of all of you to be on this Board," commented parent Lisa Krommenhoek. "It's upsetting that this is happening."
"We should all be here with the common goal, best interest of our children, best practices," she said. "I want my kids to have the best education, I want opportunities for them. And to see this is disgusting to me....and it's frustrating. I want to be in that seat. I want to have a voice, not to prove anyone wrong, but to do what's right."
"I take my duties to the district seriously," responded Board member Patricia Caruso. "My vote is my own. I put my head down on the pillow knowing that I'm trying to make the best decisons for the students in the district. I can tell you I have have lost sleep many nights over decisions that have to be made.
"This is not an easy job, and there's a lot of abuse that we take. But we are in a legal situation a lot of times where we can't speak. I have to say that last month when you made a comment that this district "stinks" and I found that remark insulting to every educator that works in this district."
Krommenhoek interupted Caruso in an attempt to apologize for the comment, but Board Attorney refused to allow her to speak, enforcing the rule that the public only has three minutes to speak.
Caruso reminded people about the students who were recoginzed earlier in the night, saying "people are doing the best job that they can."
A new parent to the district, who teaches at Becton High School said she "dreamt" of raising her children in Hasbrouck Heights, noting that "every school district has something that need to be fixed."
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