VERNON TOWNSHIP, NJ - Vernon Township Public Schools Board of Education met on Thursday, January 10 at the Vernon High School Media Center, to hold their annual reorganization and board work session meeting.
A major concern for the board members was the fact that Douglas Castellana was not present at the meeting.
Castellana, who was president of the board of education last year, was on vacation, and had asked if he could be teleconferenced via Skype, which had caused negative feedback from his peers.
“Doug never mentioned to a single member of this,” stated board member Edward DeYoung. “We get the bomb dropped on us two days before the meeting. I am very appalled that our board president decided to do this.”
Steven Kepnes, business administrator and board secretary, told the board members that, “Their final vote would decide whether Castellana could be teleconferenced in.”
“If we want to permit teleconferences in the near future, we need to make that decision,” explained DeYoung who said he wishes the topic was brought up last November or December. “This was all done in a secretive type environment. It came through email December 19 and didn’t show up until yesterday. It is very, very disturbing.”
“The way this is written is that any member of the board can skip a meeting and be apart of it without being here,” stated board member Bob Hughes. “I would never do that, because I want to look you in the eye while you are speaking.”
Hughes also reflected on his dedication as a board of education member of 15 years by explaining, “I flew in once from Spain to make a meeting at one in the afternoon, because when you join a board you make a commitment.”
The board voted 6-2 on disallowing Castellana to participate in via Skype.
Kepnes called Castellana on a cell phone to confirm that the board had declined. After speaking to Castellana he replied to Kepnes with, “Let me know about president.”
Declaring a nomination for a president of the board of education was then discussed.
Board member John McGowan said, “Given the economy and the pressures on spending, this is going to take a very solid mature mind to guide us through this landscape. I feel very confident that this gentleman can do that very well because his background experience.”
McGowan then nominated Bob Hughes as President of the board of education, with the approval of all members.
“I’m too shocked to open my mouth,” said Hughes. “Thank you so much.”
Hughes then started the nominations for vice president of the board.
Member Lori Parrot nominated the current vice president at the time, David Zweier, to be re-elected for his position.
“I think it would be important to get two people to run for vice president,” said McGowan, as he nominated DeYoung for the position.
The council voted three times, each time with a tie of 4-4, on whether Zweier or DeYoung would hold the position of new vice president.
Zweier told Hughes they would, “Make a good team,” and that he is also “the only one on the board who will have children eventually going into Vernon Township High School.”
“We all each bring something different to the table. That is why I nominate Dave [Zweier] again,” explained Parrot.
Hughes decided the board take a short five minute recess to really think about their decisions.
When the board voted for a fourth time, DeYoung withdrew, and stated that he wanted the position to go Zweier.
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