Retired Jersey City educator DuPree becomes latest member of local school board

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Retired Jersey City educator Gevonder DuPree became the latest person to be appointed to the local school board during a special meeting last night.

The first portion of the meeting, where the appointment was made, only lasted about an hour and disagreements were few and fair between – though Trustee Matt Schapiro almost immediately made a motion to adjourn the meeting to have a more thorough look at each applicant’s resume.

“Pastor Fernandez has resigned just a week ago. There’s no impact on regular board function,” Schapiro said before cutting cut off by Board President Sudhan Thomas.

“What is your motion Trustee Schapiro? … You have to submit a motion, I’ve been waiting for your motion and you’re putting on a preamble right now: I need your motion. If not we’re proceeding with the meeting.”

Schapiro made a motion to adjourn based on the fact the resumes of interested parties were delivered just a few hours ago, but with no one seconding his motion, the meeting continued on.

While Thomas said that nine people had expressed an interest in the vacant board seat left by Pastor Luis “Lipe” Fernandez, just three people came to the podium to speak, including DuPree, who emphasized her experience and expertise as it pertains to civil service guidelines.

“I worked for the board of education for 25 years, most, 20 of those years with human resources when I dealt with civil service, hiring. Teachers, substitute teachers, the aides, teacher’s assistants,” she began.

“What I would like to bring to the table is … civil service and the right hiring process: how it’s supposed to be done.”

Trustee Joan Terrell-Paige made a motion to nominate DuPree to fill the board vacancy, which was seconded by Board Vice President Lorenzo Richardson.

Schapiro attempted to make a motion to nominate Jessica Berrocal-Abdelnabbi, a local single parent and the first speaker of the evening, but Board Counsel Michael Gross said the other motion needed to be voted on first.

DuPree’s appointment passed by a vote of 7-1, with only Schapiro voting no.

Fernandez, citing time constraints, was the third trustee to resign in the past seven months.

Angel Valentin resigned in July due to health issues and Amy DeGise, the chair of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, stepped down last month to focus on building the local party.

They were replaced by Gerry Lyons, who lost the previous school board election in November, and Gina Verdibello, a longtime advocate who had run unsuccessfully four times in prior years.

Most of the meeting streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below:

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