Thursday, March 05, 2009

BOE President's Sister OK to Run

Joanne Hollis looked on proudly when her sister, Bridget Rivers, was sworn in as school board president last April. Now Hollis has filed to run for a three-year seat on the board and although it raised some eyebrows, there is no reason why she can’t serve if she wins, according to New Jersey School Boards Association spokesman Mike Yaple.

“The state’s anti-nepotism policy applies to school officials’ family members working in the school district,” Yaple said. “Specifically, it applies to the hiring and promotion of school officials’ family members – and the conflict of interest that would arise if the school official voted on issues affecting their family member’s wallet.”

But serving as an unpaid school board member alongside another family member is not prohibited, he said.

“In such cases, it’s entirely the will of the voters,” he said, noting occasional instances of husband-wife or father-daughter service on school boards.

Yaple said state law only dictates a handful of criteria for a person to serve on a school board.

You must be:
- A registered voter
- A U.S. citizen who’s lived in the district at least a year
- Be able to read and write
- Have no contract with, or claim against the school board (i.e, you can’t be working for or suing the school district)
- Can’t serve on the municipal governing body (or if it’s a county school board, such as a county vo-tech board, you can’t serve on the county freeholders). Also can’t simultaneously hold two elected offices.

“Beyond that, the voters decide the people they want representing their interests on the school board,” Yaple said.

In another board filing development, Mahogany Hendricks filed for a three-year seat when the deadline was extended due to a snow day. That now makes a field of seven vying for three three-year terms, including Brenda Gilbert and incumbents Rasheed Abdul-Haqq, Lisa Logan Leach, Pat Barksdale and appointee Joseph Ruffin Sr.

Hendricks had filed Monday for a two-year unexpired term, but her change of heart now leaves that race to remaining filers Terrence Williams, Tammy Westbrook and Katherine Peterson.

The school board election is April 21.

--Bernice Paglia


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