PLEASANTVILLE — Following some discrepancies, officials have confirmed that four seats are up for election on the local school board in November, three full terms and one unexpired term.
At first, the Atlantic County Clerk’s Office reported there were two full terms and one unexpired term available. Then, following the July 30 deadline to submit nominating petitions, school officials and the state Department of Education told The Press there were three full terms and no unexpired terms. Later in August, the County Clerk’s Office released sample ballots that showed three full terms and one unexpired seat.
School officials said this week the confusion stemmed from board member Hannah Erickson’s appointment.
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“Originally we had assumed it was based upon the date of her being sworn in when in fact it was based upon when the vacancy had occurred,” which was February, board attorney James Carroll said.
Erickson, 28, took her seat in August, filling the vacancy that arose due to the death of Ethel Seymore in February. She was approved by the school board to fill the vacancy in June, but her oath of office was held up for a residency check by the County Superintendent’s Office, Carroll said.
At the time, school officials believed her appointment would expire in December 2019, when Seymore’s term expired, because she didn’t take her seat on the board until after the board’s first meeting of July, as outlined in state statute.
But Carroll said during Monday’s meeting that, after consultation with the New Jersey School Boards Association and the County Clerk’s Office, that was not the case. Erickson’s term expires Dec. 31.
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That is the reason why the Clerk’s Office issued a sample ballot recently that contained three, three-year terms and one, one-year unexpired term, Carroll said. Two candidates filed petitions for the one-year term: Jerome Page and Robin Whitlock.
Erickson is one of the five candidates seeking a three-year seat in the November school election along with Cassandra Clements, John Eason, Richard Norris and Sharnell Morgan.
Sitting board members James Buford, Lawrence “Tony” Davenport and Elysa Sanchez did not file petitions seeking re-election. Davenport is seeking a seat on City Council this fall.
Union supporting candidates
Efforts are underway by the Pleasantville education union supporting candidates Morgan, Norris and Page in this year’s school board election. Union members have begun making phone calls and knocking on doors in the city, according to Pleasantville High School teacher Renee Irwin.
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Irwin, who chairs the union’s political action committee, said this is the first time in at least a decade that the Pleasantville Education Association has endorsed a candidate.
“We feel that they’re going to bring some civility and professionalism back to the board,” Irwin said Tuesday.
All three candidates are previous board members. Morgan lost her bid for re-election last fall after an influx of mail-in ballots moved Board President Carla Thomas ahead in the vote tally. Norris, who won a seat in the 2016 election, was removed from the board several months after taking office for failing to complete a background check. Page served twice on the board previously.