Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vice-President Gilliard Leaves Kids First political group- Remains Committed to the Kids of Hoboken

On February 20th Ms. Carrie Gilliard, the Vice-President of the Hoboken Board of Education, submitted a letter to the Hoboken Reporter criticizing and disassociating herself from the political group known as "Kids First." The previous week another Hoboken Board of Education trustee, Ms. Maureen Sullivan, also submitted a letter criticizing and disassociating herself from the same political group. Published documents indicate that the vote to hire the most important job in the district was not on the public agenda. Moreover, the item was brought on as a "live" item for a vote. "Live" agenda items are items added *during* a Board of Education meeting and indicates that there was no public notice of the item. As a sidebar, the board leadership, trustees belonging to the same political group that Ms. Gilliard and Ms. Sullivan disassociated from, stated that no action would be taken on the hiring of a permanent superintendent some days prior to the Board of Education meeting.

Here is Vice-President Gilliard's letter to the Hoboken Reporter and to the people of Hoboken:
Dear Editor:

After previously serving as school board trustee of Hoboken School District (1996-2002 two full-three year terms) a total of six years and always taking a stance for what was best for our students; even when I had to stand alone – I had the courage to advocate for the best interest of the students – today that is still my position!!!

Three years ago, I was approached by current board member Theresa Minutillo and a group of individuals who dubbed themselves “Reformers.” They took the name: “Kids First” as their “Trademark” (logo: a kid with a back-pack) hence, running on the “Platform” of putting the interest of our students first – at that time, I was excited to be a part of a “grass-roots” School Reform Movement and I agreed to return to Hoboken School District as a school board trustee and continued my quest to ensure that Hoboken’s students get the world-class education they deserve.

Point of reference: I watched Theresa Minutillo struggle for one year – as a lone board member advocating for “School Reform” prior to “Kids First” attaining the majority votes at Hoboken BOE...

Only to witness at Tuesday’s Board Meeting (Feb. 9, 2010) how easily Theresa and Board president Rose Markle courted and – jump into bed with some of the very same board members we fought up to this point – this is not propaganda – just roll the tape back and review the votes!. This is the same “reckless behavior” demonstrated by the previous board majority members namely: Jim Farina, Frances Rhodes-Kearns and Carmelo Garcia; these board members are the remnants of what we fought against!

Tuesday night they assisted Theresa and Board president Markle to deliver Frank Romano from Fort Lee to Hoboken with a very lucrative contract: $190,000 salary and a guarantee 3. percent annual increase regardless of his performance! How does this behavior show fiscal responsibility to the Tax Payers and our Students – especially during these times of national economic constraints?

Yes, it was a circus upstairs (during the closed-session) at Tuesday (Feb. 9) Board Meeting. The public was left waiting down stairs for over two hours – while my colleagues allowed Frank Romano to take them for a ride – he was driving the bus and they were happy to hitch a ride on the back seats – showing him that they were willing to give him whatever he wanted; not even using the “leverage” of their position. I knew that his lack of experience did not warrant that contract – but he saw their weakness and he worked them accordingly.

Now, for the record: I only advocated re-opening the process of the “Superintendent Search” because I really felt that we did not interview enough candidates (only total of four people interviewed) therefore, the need was evident that we should have continue the search for a fully qualified person with “Leadership Experience” and a “Successful Model” they could showcase as their own visions. The process of selecting the right person for “Superintendent of Schools” is very important; therefore it can not – nor should it be handled as an “on the job training” position.

Correction, I did not have a candidate – I had an application that was forwarded to me; however, everyone is aware that I can only cast one vote and it takes five votes to carry a majority so – how was I going to get “my man” in?

In closing, as I stated at the Board meeting Tuesday night during my dissenting vote, I can no longer be affiliated with “Kid First” for the following reasons: rushing this process through as a “Live Item” on Tuesday night’s Agenda – after Theresa sent an email on Saturday Feb. 6 stating: ”the Board had not come to an agreement with Romano on salary and terms of contract; no action will be taken at Tuesday meeting; a special meeting will be schedule to conclude the process.” I take much exception to the idea of pushing that contract on the Agenda as a “Live Item” by Kids First and their newly found friends this behavior was contrary to what we stood for – prior to Maureen and I openly expressing our concerns about the rush process. So after that egregious contract; I can no longer trust that they will do the right thing going forward – this was all about “closing the deal” before the next School Board Election in April.

Carrie Gilliard, Vice President
Hoboken Board of Education