While longtime Jersey City parent and advocate Gina Verdibello has had some rough luck at the polls since 2013, the local board of education agreed that she was the best fit to fill a vacancy at last night’s meeting.
“With the vacancy on the board, and as a consistent advocate for the children of Jersey City, and a strong supporter of the teachers and support staff, I’m asking the board to consider me to replace Ms. DeGise,” Verdibello said during public portion.
“I am aware that Amy DeGise is irreplaceable and has done an excellent job during her time on the Jersey City Board of Education. This is a critical time to find the right person to replace this seat and start thinking beyond the time she has left.”
Amy DeGise, the chair of the Hudson County Democratic Organization and the daughter of Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, announced she would be stepping down from the BOE last month to focus on strengthening the local party.
While a dozen candidates submitted their names to be considered, Verdibello appeared to be the frontrunner within hours of the news that DeGise would be vacating her seat.
Nevertheless, it seemed that the Jersey City Education Association, the local teachers union, preferred retired educator Gevonda Dupree to fill the vacancy, based on the public remarks made by union president Ron Greco.
“Gevonda was able to staff the district very adequately. She knows civil service like the back of her hand, she is our go to person in negotiations: she knows civil service better than civl service knows civil service,” Greco stated.
After over two hours of public comment, Trustee Joan Terrell-Paige made a motion to nominate Verdibello, which was seconded by Trustee Marilyn Roman, and the measure was approved unanimously (6-0).
Trustees Luis Felipe Fernandez and Matt Schapiro were absent.
After being sworn in, Verdibello was succinct with her comments.
“I’m very grateful and so looking forward to working with this board and the community to make a difference and to always, always keep the children first.”
The appointment is a happy ending for Verdibello, who unsuccessfully ran for the school board four times between 2013 and 2016.
This is not the first time in recent memory that the BOE went against the grain in appointing a new board member, voting Trustee Gerald Lyons back into a seat in August after he lost a re-election bid in November 2017.
The meeting streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: