The Concerned Citizens Of Roselle Park (CCORP), in response to a question raised by a resident, entered into a dialogue with the Roselle Park Board Of Education (BOE) regarding the eligibility requirements of candidate Barbara Sokol.
Ms. Sokol, a former Roselle Park teacher, was appointed by the BOE in September 2010 to fill one of two vacancies caused by the resignations of Ken Iaichio and Nancy Kinloch. She is currently running for a three-year term along with Troy Gerten, Christopher Miller, and Jason Tribiano.
A letter was sent to the BOE by The Concerned Citizens Of Roselle Park looking for a response regarding a section in the New Jersey School Board Association (NJSBA) Nominating Petition for Annual School Election. The last page of the form has a list of qualifications and under that, in a separated section, reads the statement ‘No Board of Education member shall be directly or indirectly involved in any contract with or claim against the board’.
The section related to Ms. Sokol abstaining from the 2011-2012 budget which covers terms of the teacher’s contract.
“By contract, upon my retirement, I was to receive sick day payment. I did not receive that sick day payment as of yet,” Ms. Sokol stated on March 8th, 2011, giving the reason for her abstention from the budget vote, “It is now in this budget, so I have to abstain.”
On March 25, 2011 the CCORP sent a correspondence to the Union County Board Of Elections and copied both the school superintendent Patrick Spagnoletti and Barbara Sokol. The letter asked for an answer regarding Ms. Sokol’s current involvement in a contract with the RP BOE in order to ensure a compliant School District Election as a matter of due diligence. In addition, a separate letter was sent to Ms. Sokol to state that the investigation into the matter reflected no negative feelings toward her personally nor did it pass judgment or opinion about her dedication and service to the residents of Roselle Park.
The Union County Board of Elections responded that they held no jurisdiction over the matter but stated that the School Board secretary, Sue Guercio, could provide an answer. A letter was then sent in early April to Ms. Guercio from the CCORP to ask for an accurate and objective answer to remove any unnecessary speculation.
On April 20th, almost four (4) weeks after the initial correspondence regarding the matter, the BOE finally sent a response to the CCORP’s inquiries. The letter was a five (5) sentence response which included the following:
Given the fact that the results of the election are unknown at this time, it is premature to discuss any potential conflict Ms. Sokol may have if successful in the election. Challenges to Ms. Sokol’s election to the Board are subject to review by the Board of Elections.
No other communication has been received by the BOE nor has any public comment been made by the Board or the Superintendent.
“It’s something that I had checked out before I started any of this,” Ms. Sokol stated, regarding the issue of her contract with the school district and serving on the Board, “I had asked that question and as far as they were always concerned, it was not a problem. I terminated my employment when I retired in 2010.”
The BOE election is this coming Wednesday, April 27, 2011.