LETTER: What’s the point in having 9 Hoboken BOE members when they all always vote yes?


In a letter to the editor, Hoboken resident Kevin Davis poses the question of what’s the point in having nine board of education trustees when they all always vote yes?

Dear Editor,

Since January 2019, there has only been one vote where a member of the Hoboken School Board has voted no.

It was in August 2021, when board member Sheillah Dallara voted no on appointing a First Grade Wallace School teacher for a long-term leave replacement position.

Over the last three years, none of the current board members except board member Dallara have voted no on any resolutions.

Is this the kind of representation that we deserve from President Sharyn Angley, Vice President Malani Cademartori, Alex De La Torre, Chetali Khanna, Thomas Kluepfel, Ailene McGuirk, Joyce Simons, & Melanie Tekirian?

What is the point in having nine school board members, when they all vote the same way?

Alex De La Torre, who is running for re-election this year, has yet to vote no on any resolutions during his entire tenure on the school board.

One example of a 9-0 vote is when the HBOE voted to put a $241 million school bond (with an additional $90 million in interest) for a new Hoboken High School on the January 2022 ballot.

Not only did the board unanimously vote to put this on the ballot, but they were united in keeping this quiet until after the November 2021 school board election, even when they have been working on this since 2019.

If this bond had passed, it would have raised school taxes by 20% to build an oversized school without any state aid or meaningful community input. Luckily, this bond was stopped when 65% of voters voted No.

The 35% of Hobokeners who supported the bond have adequate representation on the school board as 100% of school board members supported the bond.

The issue is that the 65% who opposed the school bond, have 0% representation on the school board. It is time for voters to make a change this November since we aren’t being represented by the 9-0 school board!

Another example of the 9-0 school board is that every January the school board votes at their reorganization meeting on the president and vice president of the school board.

Based on what I experienced before the July 2022 school board meeting, I can confidently say that the school board made a mistake when they voted 9-0 on electing Malani Cademartori as their vice president.

Before the meeting started, I was just sitting in one of the middle rows close to the aisle in the Demarest auditorium. Vice President Cademartori got up from her seat on the dais and walked toward me in the stands.

Cademartori stated that she read my letter on expanding the hours of community swim at Hoboken High School and that my letter was “misinformation.”

For something to be misinformation, it must be false, and nothing in my letter was false as city elected officials during the referendum argued that the proposed high school would have increased community access, and my letter quoted Sheillah Dallara stating that the reason why there aren’t any weekend or evening hours is because of the city.

This did not dissuade Vice President Cademartori from demanding that I speak with her before publishing letters.

Ms. Cademartori, I will not speak with you before publishing letters critical of your 9-0 school board, as I have a constitutional right to free speech, and I don’t have to. This is a free country, and as a member of the 65%, you don’t represent me.

To the rest of the school board, you need to listen to Ms. Cademartori’s own words when she stated that “It also helps to be able to check your ego at the door and have a thick skin.” I agree with those words, even though the source of that quote doesn’t practice what she preaches.

We need a leader who represents 100% of Hoboken, not the hawks within the 35% who believe that the Hoboken school board can do no wrong.

There are many issues with the 9-0 school board that could take up more space in this letter, but we can close the book on this chapter by electing three new representatives to the Hoboken Board of Education this fall.

Kevin W. Davis
Hoboken resident

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  1. Dr. Johnson has her own agenda and keeps all rubber stamps on the BoE well organized and anyone who has a differing opinion is pushed out.

    • Dr. Johnson moved the Middle School out of the High School and is now complaining about Middle School overcrowding as a way to sell her new football field HS that is never going to happen. Meanwhile, the High School is way under capacity.

  2. Mr. Davis clearly doesn’t understand the $330 HS boondoggle was already decided.
    He and Hoboken residents were to only get the bill. Then 65% of the voters rose up.

    They hate when that happens. Mr. Davis could be classified as a terrorist and hunted down by federal law enforcement. That’s how these things go these days.

  3. Chairwoman Johnson and the HBoE have tried very hard to stay under the radar of the general public.
    The failed January Funding Referendum vote changed that

      • School board members, in my view, need to objectively balance the needs of our kids with the resources provided by the community — a hockey rink does not achieve that balance. We need to elect BOE members who are prepared to vote either way as the facts dictate — groupthink is not the answer.

    • It is about the kids, not partisanship. Whether that means a “yes” or “no”.vote, the board as a body should always serve in the best interest of the district needs, most of all the education and well-being of it’s students.

      One person’s alleged “rubber stamp board” is another’s cohesive school board on the same page about what serves our district’s best interest.

      It appears that at least one power-mad partisan political operative with no positive agenda for our district, promises same the kind of divisiveness on Hoboken’s board that has infested Washington D.C.

      “Groupthink” on the ORIGINAL Kid’s First propelled our district forward, and proof is that families are using the district and choosing to stay in Hoboken. “Groupthink” on a succession of Kid’s First slates, under different names, has literally turned our district around. And will continue to, without the likes of divisive partisan operatives like Pavel!

  4. Great campaign slogan: “We’ll object to everything!” or, “If they approve, we’ll object!”

    Stupidest letter published here to-date. And that is a low, low bar.

    Note, the author does not state with any specificity the SUBSTANCE of policies unanimously approved that he disagrees with. Tell us Kevin, how do you feel the board should vote? Does it matter to you what the vote is about, or just that the board is in agreement? It is a shallow, stupid, whiny objection letter because we have a board that is in sync with each other on policies that best serve our kids.

    Vote Kevin’s way for arbitrary division!

    Pure kneejerk politics. Please, keep politics and petty political partisanship out of our school leadership. Doubt this guy knows diddly what and why the board is voting how they do. The only time he wants to step into a Hoboken district school is to go swimming!

    Swim Kevin, swim!

    • Based on the author’s involvement I would guess they are mainly refering to the unanimous approval of the bond after 40+ residents spoke out agaisnt it. Eventually leading to a supermajority of residents voting it down. This is what group think and treating the BoE as a clique instead of a functional government organization gets you. Is the Sokolov slate referring to the same guy who organized the very same Vote No movement? If so sounds like that slate is more in touch with what Hoboken wants for their kids. Thank you for Saturday Swim Kevin! Keep on Swimming!

      • Wrong. Davis whines that “over three years” the board has voted “the same way”, then argues in favor of a divisive board, then flogs the Jan 25 ballot referendum which appears to be Team Sokolov’s lone platform. Sad!

        Trumpian tactics, indeed. Instead of Trump’s mantra “the election was rigged” Team Sokolov’s one-note campaign is “they supported the ballot referendum.” In other words, a negative campaign that harps on the past election.

        Good luck with that. Parents want to move forward, and hear the kind of ideas new board members would bring, how they would support students, teachers and staff. Stakeholders want to move forward, and hear how new board members will address the overcrowding in the schools and need for expansion, and support for our special needs population.

        So keep playing your one tune, Pavel & Friends. The rest of the City has moved on! I look forward to hearing from experienced candidates who actually use the district schools or know what is going on inside of them– and not just the swimming pool.

        Can’t wait to hear fresh ideas- none to be found from One-Note Pavel’s negative campaign!

        • Speaking of campaigning on the last election, what’s with your obsession with Trump? The dudes been out of office for years; while the people who approved the referendum are still in office and one is even running for re election. You have a very strange agenda, should people just forget that the BoE tried sneak in a middle of winter vote.

          • One-Note Team Pavel. Pavel IS Trump’s Mini Me: trying to win the next election by whining about the last one!

            Pavel: “I’m the January 25 candidate!” ha ha ha!

        • I think you will see some fresh ideas from this slate – certainly more relevant than the references to Trump. This is about Hoboken’s kids and the most efficient and effective way to educate them. The hockey rink was a loser, the $241m was ridiculous and the process was offensive; clearly time to inject some new blood on to that board.

  5. The operative difference of course being that the last election was a overwhelming vote no win among Democrats Independents and Republicans, so running on a significant victory is pretty good, as opposed to your Trump who lost big time. The Friends of the High School team gotta come up with a platform and drop their MAGA volunteers if they don’t want to lose again. Contrary to what Clark and Grana think women without children do have a voice.

  6. The voters rejected the Chairwoman Johnson’s arrogant January 25th plan because it was a bloated mess.
    The overwhelming NO vote had little to do with partisan party politics.