Jersey City Board of Education Trustee Sudhan Thomas took over as board president last night, with ally Lorenzo Richardson getting the nod as vice president in moves that surprised some political observers.
After some confusion about the nomination process between Schools Business Administrator Regina Robinson and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marcia Lyles, the latter explained to the public how the next board president and vice president would be named.
“Because we need to have the person acknowledged, the first question will be ‘is there anyone who wishes to make a nomination?’ and then if there are multiple people who want to make nominations, given that, as opposed to just calling on – and we talked to the board counsel,” Lyles noted.
New Board Counsel Michael Gross, replacing Ramon Rivera, confirmed that Thomas had the motion and a second, by Trustee Angel Valentin and Richardson, respectively, before Trustee Felipe Luis Fernandez nominated Vidya Gangadin – the board president in 2015.
Gangadin never had a chance for a roll call though, as Thomas received a 5-4 vote from his colleagues: with Gangadin, Fernandez, as well as Trustees Amy DeGise and Matt Schapiro voting no.
Richardson then received the vice presidency by the same vote tally, humbly expressing thanks when addressing the crowd.
“I just wanted to acknowledge my family and let them know that I love them dearly. They are the backbone of my support, my pastor, Rev. Joseph L. Jones was here earlier: my faith and my family are everything,” Richardson stated.
In a much lengthier speech after a short recess, Thomas also thanked his colleagues, friends and family for their support before imploring the board to put their differences aside to work together for the sake of the greater good.
“Given our unique demographics and student instruction requirement this board is tonight calling for Jersey City to adopt education as a human right for both primary and secondary education with a focus on preparing both college bound and non college bound students for the changing work force in the United States and the new global economy,” Thomas said.
“Let us resolve tonight as a Board to pivot to the classroom and put students first to focus on their academic achievement and to prepare them for the new work force.”
Also at the meeting, the board swore in the four trustees who were victorious at the polls on November 7th: Richardson, DeGise, Schapiro and Mussab Ali – the latter being the first Muslim American official elected in Jersey City at just 20 years old.