Pleasantville board of education no quorum

Board members Sharnell Morgan (not seen) and Jerome Page, at right, at the empty board table as they await the arrival of the remaining seven school board members Tuesday. Also present were state monitor Constance Bauer, interim Superintendent Dennis Anderson, and Business Administrator Elisha Thompkins.

PLEASANTVILLE — For the sixth time in a year, the Pleasantville Board of Education had to cancel its meeting due to a lack of quorum.

Audience members Tuesday filled the high school cafeteria for what should have been the regular-action meeting of July. But after waiting 15 minutes and only two board members arriving, school Business Administrator Elisha Thompkins announced the meeting would have to be rescheduled because at least five of the nine members must be present to conduct a meeting.

In the past 12 months, monthly board meetings scheduled for July 24, 2018; Aug. 14, 2018; Oct. 16, 2018; and Nov. 20, 2018, all were canceled due to a lack of quorum. On Jan. 15, the meeting began with a quorum of six members but was halted halfway through when James Barclay and Bernice Couch left.

Among the audience members Tuesday were about a dozen high school students who came, in school band T-shirts, ready to speak regarding the recent resignation of their band director.

Interim Superintendent Dennis Anderson addressed the students directly, apologizing for the delay and promising the district was working to fill the position.

“We’ll do our best to hopefully get somebody that can do the job and can keep moving you forward,” he told the students.

Asked about the no-shows of the board president and other members after the meeting, Anderson said he was focusing on the positive.

The only board members who arrived at the 5 p.m. start time Tuesday were Sharnell Morgan and Jerome Page. Member Rick Norris arrived about 5:30 p.m., after it had been canceled. He said he was late due to a medical emergency.

Board President Carla Thomas was among those who did not attend Tuesday’s meeting. Reached by phone Wednesday, Thomas said she had “an emergency” and could not attend. She said Vice President Barclay was in Liberia due to a death in his family.

Board members Couch, Anny Melo and Hassan Callaway also did not attend.

“I did talk to a couple of them. Two of them couldn’t get the time off to come,” Thomas said of the other board members’ work schedules.

Thomas said the board positions are volunteer and it was hard to get people to come to the meetings in the summer.

“That’s something that we’re looking into to make sure our dates are good for everyone,” she said.

Prior to Thompkins ending the meeting, Page asked to make a statement on the record and said he would also be speaking with the state fiscal monitor regarding the no-shows Tuesday.

“We really need to look at the seriousness of this today and look at now two board members (who) have missed three consecutive meetings, to remove them, and look at the president at stepping down,” Page said.

This is not the first time Page, who joined the board in January, has expressed his doubt in Thomas’ leadership and asked her to step down.

It is rare that all board members attend Pleasantville’s school board meetings, with Callaway missing the most. Since being sworn onto the board in February 2018 — a month after he was supposed to take office because of a delayed background check — Callaway has missed about half of the 30 scheduled meetings, left early three times and arrived late once.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Aug. 13.

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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