As a former member of the Plainfield Board of Education and a close follower of the board’s actions, I was surprised to say the least at the recent swearing-in ceremony for Willie Pat Hembree.
Ms. Hembree won her seat last November by a margin of only 13 votes, but she won fair and square. Or so I thought.
I have since discovered two things. The first is that Ms. Hembree filed a claim against the board during her campaign. And she was sworn in before the claim was settled. This action violates NJ Revised Statue 18A:12-2 (2018): “No member of any board of education shall be interested directly or indirectly in any contract with or claim against the board.” Her claim against the board violates her eligibility to serve on the board, and she should be removed.
And then at the board meeting on March 3, I discovered that her swearing-in statement was different from the statement I and others used. The statement I and others used reads: “I, [Name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) . . . that I am not disqualified from membership due to conviction of a crime or offense listed in N.J.S.A. 18A:12-1.”
But her statement read: “I, Willie Pat Hembree, do solemnly swear (or affirm) . . . that I am not disqualified from membership due to conviction of a crime or offense listed in N.J.S.A. 18A:12-1, and the results are still pending.”
The addition of “and the results are still pending” was unusual. Why were these words added? What do they mean? The public has the right to know.