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HAMMONTON — Sam Mento III and Thomas Attanasi will continue to lead the local Board of Education, the county executive superintendent decided after board members came up with a tie vote during reorganization.

Mento said Tuesday morning he was notified by Hammonton School Superintendent Robin Chieco of the decision.

“It was unfortunate that the decision had to go to the county. Moving forward, I will work to return the Hammonton Board of Education to an era of good feeling that we have enjoyed for so many years, because the children deserve better and we all as members can do better,” Mento said Wednesday. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve as president once again.”

During its reorganization meeting Jan. 2, the board’s vote was split when it came to electing a president and vice president. Nominees were current board President Mento or former board Vice President John Lyons for president, and current board Vice President Attanasi or Barbara Berenato for vice president. Among Hammonton members, Lyons and Berenato were favored 5-4, but Waterford Township representative Al Pangia cast his vote for Mento and Attanasi.

Per state law, the executive county superintendent must appoint board officers if the board fails to do so.

At the time, Lyons said he was displeased that a sending district representative could sway the vote for board leadership. He reiterated that point Tuesday.

“When we opened our doors here in Hammonton to students from Waterford, there was an understanding that the Hammonton board would remain independent. As we have seen in recent weeks, however, that’s not what’s happening here. Waterford hijacked Hammonton’s decision-making process by siding with the Hammonton board minority, grinding the Hammonton board to a halt and forcing the county to decide. That is not right. Our faculty and students deserve better. That being said, I’m happy to move forward. We have a lot of work to do,” Lyons said in a statement to The Press.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Thursday.

Contact: 609-272-7251 Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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