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School Board Prepares to Fill Vacant Seat

BOE attorney says Joanne Mancuso's decision not to take the seat she won in November puts the board in a most unusual situation.

The Parsippany Board of Education is supposed to be made up of nine members. But late last month, Joanne Mancuso, who won one of the three open slots in the Nov. 6 election, announced that she would not take the seat or be sworn in, leaving the board in unfamiliar waters.

At its Thursday reorganization meeting, the body announced that it will hold a special meeting at the administration building Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. to do the work involved in filling the seat.

The situation is an odd one for the district. When a sitting member vacates a seat, policy is clear: The remaining board members take resumes and applications for interested contenders and hold a special public meeting to interview the candidates, deliberate (which may be done in closed session) and make a decision.

Board Attorney Mark Tabakin said that what makes this case unusual is that while Mancuso won the election, she wasn't sworn in, which creates a question: Can she be considered a sitting member?

For the purpose of filling this seat, new board President Susy Golderer announced that the body will go forward with the aforementioned process.

"It's a vacancy," said Golderer. "The policy stands."

"We've had board members leave mid-term, but I don't think we've had a board member not be sworn in," resident Monica Sclafani told the body. "There is a fourth member who was duly elected, and they should be given the most consideration for this position." 

Sclafani referred to Alison Cogan, who came in fourth in the election, behind James Carifi, Frank Calabria and Joanne Mancuso. 

"Mrs. Cogan received 5,700 votes in the past election, placing fourth after Mrs. Mancuso," Sclafani told Patch. "I don't know why the board is even considering anyone else for the position."

Then she referenced outspoken board member Michael Strumolo.

"Mr. Strumolo has reminded us a number of times during his tenure on the board that he was 'duly elected.'  [New board member James] Carifi reminded us this evening that he received some 8,000 votes in the past school board election.   I would say that Alison Cogan, with her 5,700 votes,  has now been 'duly elected' and should be given her place on the board."

The erstwhile also-ran could end up replacing Mancuso. Cogan is one of four people who already have put in their names for consideration. Also on that list are former school board Vice President Frank Neglia, who came in sixth place in the November election, and former candidate Anthony DeIntinis, who came in last place.

Next Thursday, the board will interview the four and any other applicants as part of a special public meeting. By the gathering's end, the body will choose Mancuso's successor.

That new member will have to start quickly: At the reorganization meeting, the board voted to table consideration of the superintendent's and secretary's reports to allow newly sworn members to get up to speed.

 

Kevin Brancato January 04, 2013 at 07:58 PM
Monica, Nice move putting Mr. Strummolo on the spot to put up or shut up. If last nights voting is any indication of things to come. You can bet that Mr. DeIntinis will be the one chosen. Then you will know for sure how much trouble we are in for with this new Board.
Scott Dean January 04, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Kevin, Im suprised going on the history of the previous board and the shenannigans that you would not be more optimistic going forward.
Anya Sheiffele January 05, 2013 at 02:31 AM
Well, if Mr. Carifi craves order and structure for this new board and we follow the "duly elected" consideration from Mr. Stromolo, then Alison Cogan is the clear choice.
Kevin Brancato January 05, 2013 at 05:33 AM
Scott, based on the show that was put on last night I see no reason to be optimistic. I sincerely hope that I am wrong but the past history of the members now in the majority makes me feel that I am not.
Carol M. January 05, 2013 at 01:39 PM
I agree. The BOE has a responsibility to listen to the voters and the voters have spoken loud and clear. There is no reasonable justification to appoint anyone other then Mrs Cogan.
David Comora January 06, 2013 at 05:00 AM
Seems pretty obvious you go for whoever had the highest amount of votes. Anything else would be the kind of backroom politics that we all have come to despise.
Nicole January 06, 2013 at 08:01 PM
Monica, no matter how you slice it, board member Strumolo was in fact duly elected to the board. When a person comes in fourth place in a three person race, that person is not duly elected. The current board has no responsibility or duty to appoint Alison to anything. They very well may, but only after the process of looking at all potential applicants and interviewing each has been completed.
Monica Sclafani January 07, 2013 at 04:24 AM
You're quite right, Nicole. Mr. Strumolo was "duly elected", but here's my point. The election was held two months ago. There were 5700 Parsippany residents and taxpayers that voted for Mrs. Cogan. Should their votes be ignored? If Mr. Strumolo, Mrs. Golderer, Mr. Shamsudin and Mr. Martin are listening to the voice of the residents (another catch phrase they use), here's their chance to prove it.
VietNam Vet January 07, 2013 at 09:32 AM
Well that's what this board has been known for in the past, so why change it now. Cogan would be going back to what we had before and we all wanted to change that, so you decide. I would rather get some new blood on the board and go with someone else, give Mr. De Intinis a chance.
Kevin Brancato January 07, 2013 at 12:27 PM
DeIntinnis, Really now Paul. The guy who was the lowest vote getter. You really ought to get better advice from your neighbor. ( I assume that's where you get your info from ) Mike has been messing with this board for a long time and has yet to offer to take a leadership position. He has been content to spew his venom and let the people he supported take the heat and the leadership. People if anyone BUT Mrs Cogan get's this appointment, this is going to be the worst period for education that this town will have ever seen. Just look at who supports who. Vet why don't you just change your name back to Paul Brown. At least you had the guts to pit your name to what you wrote.
Jacqueline Breyers January 08, 2013 at 03:22 AM
Monica, it's not your point though. We all know you are Calabria's and Seitz's biggest cheerleader. You have a position with the board of ed and never hesitate to speak for them. What about the 6,127 that voted for Mancuso, obviously we can't accomodate them so why Cogan? It's a clean slate now so its up to the Board to make the decision, you are just going to do what you do best, beat up members that are not in agreeance with YOUR PEOPLE, shame on you. Its for the children that we need this change not for Seitz's golden ticket or Calabria's so called legacy.
Monica Sclafani January 08, 2013 at 04:23 AM
You're right, Jacqueline. I do speak up for Dr. Calabria and Dr. Seitz when I feel the need to voice my opinion and I do it without any shame. I do work for the school district (not the BOE) as a substitute. If you're iimplying that my opinions can be bought, you're way off the mark. I am a resident and taxpayer and have the right to my opinions as does any other resident. And just who am I "beating up"? Mr. Strumolo and company? I'm sure they have thicker skin than that; but I am calling on them to do the right thing. All I've done is express my support for Alison Cogan, as have others here. Again, 5700 votes should not be ignored. Just curious, Jacqueline, but who would you like to see fill the position? Mr. DeIntinis?

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