Despite opposition, Charles Ryan rejoined the Bayonne Board of Education last night, despite losing a re-election bid in November, with Joseph Broderick getting the nod for a fourth term as president.
As expected, there were divisions on the board for the nominees, especially for Charles Ryan, who was running for an open trustee seat that was vacated by Trustee-elect Michael Mulcahy, who was elected to a one-year term in November but resigned before being sworn in.
Ryan had faced scrutiny for berating a music teacher in November during a board meeting for cancelling a popular after school program.
As a result, attorney Carol Smeltzer, representing the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, called on the entire board to disqualify Ryan as a choice to sit on the board.
“It is our view that the conduct of former trustee Ryan while serving on the board likely violated the code of ethics for school board members. Former trustee Ryan did not comply with the provisions of the code of ethics, and should not be given another opportunity to violate the school ethics act,” Smeltzer began.
“It bears noting that when the public recently voted in the school board election, they did not vote to keep former trustee Ryan on the board. In fact, former trustee Ryan was among the lowest vote getters in this election. For these reasons, we are respectfully requesting that the board fill the current vacancy with a member of the community who is ready, willing and able to fill this important role in a professional and responsible manner,” she added.
However, Trustee Ava Finnerty stressed that with the board facing major decisions in the upcoming months for a new superintendent and business administrator, an experienced trustee such as a Ryan would be a better fit than an inexperienced candidate.
“My whole prospective about being a trustee has changed. It is a tremendous responsibility and it requires a great deal of work, emotion, a lot of reading, time and effort. When I think about what this current board is going to face, we need someone who has experience,” Finnerty explained.
“Yes, we have some very good candidates who have very good intentions, and I’m sure they will make great candidates in the future. But right now we need someone who has the experience to deal with the enormity of the decisions that we have to make. After working with Mr. Ryan for three years, I think he brings that experience that this board needs right now. I vote yes for Mr. Ryan.”
Trustee Christopher Munoz responded to Finnerty that while he agreed that experience is important, he emphasized that at one time, each board member did not have any board experience prior to their elections and, therefore, the lack of experience of the other candidates shouldn’t preclude them from consideration.
In an interview, we asked Munoz why he voted against the nominations for board president (Joseph Broderick), vice president (Denis Wilbeck) and trustee (Ryan).
“I just felt that we needed new leadership at this point. President Broderick and Vice President Wilbeck have been there for three years. And it was a matter of letting other people on the board step up and make some very vital decisions. We have a lot facing this board in the next six months, and I kind of felt that we needed stronger leadership at the top,” said Munoz.
Wilbeck voted enthusiastically for Broderick, saying that while Munoz is ambitious, he would not be a good candidate for president of the board because he works two full time jobs and therefor would have little to no time to fulfill the job’s requirements.
“The reason I would nominate Mr. Broderick is that he is retired, and he’s here mornings, afternoons and evenings. The other candidate [Munoz] works two full-time jobs. With respect to him, he’s ambitious and wants to become more of a leader. But he doesn’t have the time to do it,” said Wilbeck.
“Munoz’s a good guy and does a good job, but he’s got a family to raise, while Mr. Broderick’s family are already adults. So Munoz just doesn’t have the time to do it. Unfortunately, he would have to give up one of his jobs if he wanted to do half the job that Mr. Broderick does.”
The final vote tally to elect Broderick as president was 6-3, with Broderick, Wilbeck, Ryan, Finnerty and Trustees Michael Alonso, Carol Cruden, voting yes, while Trustees Jodi Casais, Christopher Munoz and Maria Valado voted against the measure.
Meanwhile, Wilbeck was elected VP and Ryan was were both appointed to the board by the same 6-3 margin.
The full meeting streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: