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Westfield BOE: No Video of Candidates' Interviews

Nine candidates will be present for their interviews during the board's public meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

The Westfield will not videotape its Tuesday, Jan. 3 public meeting in which the Board will interview the who have applied to fill the seat vacated by former .

"The Board considered the value of videotaping and the impact it may have on the candidates," said BOE President Richard Mattessich. "We will be asking several questions in a limited amount of time and we would like the candidates to be able to work through their responses without the added distraction.  

"Unlike Candidates' Night where all citizens vote on candidates and it is important to provide the additional forum of video, the benefit here is limited. All members of the public are, of course, welcome to join us on the third." 

Board member Mitchell Slater said he would have supported recording and televising the meeting.

"I believe in transparency at all levels," Slater said. "There's no reason not to tape it."

The last time the BOE decided against videotaping a meeting was in the summer of 2010, when the board choose not to video the special meeting called to consider overturning the dismissal of teacher .

The board did not disclose why they decided not to video a meeting that was expected to draw several hundred parents and teachers in support of Kravetsky, who was fighting a decision by Tamaques principal Michael Cullen and Schools Superintendent Margaret Dolan to not grant him tenure.

The Kravetsky meeting was canceled the night before it was scheduled to occur after the teacher and the school district reached a deal to extend Kravetsky's employment in Westfield by an additional year.

Following the interviews, which begin at 6:30 p.m., the Board members meet privately to make their selection, which will be announced at the meeting scheduled for 8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 10.

The candidate who is chosen will serve through April, to fill out Walker's term. A bill that would move the April BOE elections to November passed a state Senate committee it was announced Dec. 8. The bill is now up for a vote in both chambers of the state Legislature; if the vote passes, the new board member will remain on through November. 

Under the new legislation, school board elections could be moved to coincide with the November general election if the change were approved by a school board, municipal governing body or a petition signed by 15 percent of the voters.

 



Richard Solomon December 29, 2011 at 04:25 PM
The last time the Board of Education interviewed candidates to replace a member who resigned, the meeting was recorded and televised. It is incumbent upon the Board to allow the public to see and hear the questions and the answers for themselves. It is a public meeting. The Leader and Patch will be covering it and reporting on it. I cannot fathom why the leadership of the Board would want to limit public accessibility to such an important event as interviewing candidates for a seat on the Board. To say that they want to protect the candidates from the distraction of a TV camera in the room is nonsense. Whoever is chosen will have to deal with being in the public eye every day, while dealing with potentially very divisive issues. It makes one wonder about the real agenda on the part of any Board member who supports this affront to transparency and accountability. Anyone who is currently on the Board and is considering running for re-election in April needs to seriously think about their position on transparency and accountability after denying the public the opportunity to witness first hand the process of deciding on filling an open seat on the Board.

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