PLAINFIELD, NJ - The Plainfield Board of Education met on Tuesday for its first Work & Study session of the new year after its reorganization. But it wasn’t a typical meeting as board members dealt with RICE charges served on Plainfield Education Association President Eric Jones.
Prior to the meeting, Jones received letters of support from education associations across the state. Union members came out in full force, and dressed in red shirts adorned with #WeArePEA.
At the meeting, Board Attorney Phil Stern explained the RICE notice process. He said the board wanted to have a conversation that it began last month about concerns it had with Jones, and the board authorized the writing up of some documents.
"Tonight, the board is going to look at those documents only, for the sole purpose of directing that the document be served upon Mr. Jones. The board is not certifying anything tonight, the board is not taking any formal action tonight on charges."
Stern added, "It is a process whereby the board will review charges and tell me whether or not we can serve Mr. Jones with the charges.”
Watch Attorney Phil Stern:
Then, one by one, supporters who had traveled from nearby towns and faraway cities came to the microphone to both criticize the board and praise Jones.
Watch Plainfield Mayor Adrian O. Mapp:
No one was turned away from speaking out in favor of Jones:
Once the public session was closed, Stern gave the documents to which he referred at the beginning of the meeting to each of the board members for their review.
Finally, while board members were reading, Carmencita Pile made a motion to drop the charges against Jones. Terence Johnson then voiced a second, to the surprise of some.
After a discussion on the motion, it was put to a vote; five in favor were needed to drop the charges: Pile, Johnson, Lynn Anderson and Eric Andrews voted in the affirmative.
John Campbell and Emily Morgan followed, with both casting ’no’ votes, to the sound of boos from the audience.
After Morgan, Board President Richard Wyatt reached for his microphone, voted 'yes' and the crowd erupted in cheers.
Jones and other association members then shook hands with board members before they filed out of the auditorium.