At its first meeting since laying off multiple staff members, neither Board President Cook nor Vice President Bey were present and a quorum was not reached until forty-five minutes after the scheduled start, all along the audience was restless to speak.
The official video feed of the meeting ended prematurely for unknown reasons during Nancy Phillips’ scathing comments. Soon after, Asbury Park Education Association President John Napolitani announced a vote of no confidence in Superintendent of Schools Dr. Rashawn M. Adams. Over 90% of the staff voted in favor of the action. Reasons stated include a hostile work environment, lack of collaboration, violations of Board of education policies, retaliation of staff for speaking out and reporting violations, and the elimination of critical positions. Napolitani spoke about respectful collaborations with former Superintendents, mentioning Repollet and Gray specifically and then emphasized, “not only was there collaboration, there was also mutual respect for each of our positions, but also for the general care and welfare for this school district.”
Board member Anthony Remy , visibly shaken, left the dais to speak during the public comment session. Expressing a different perspective, he spoke passionately, “the priority here should be the children first…By the grace of God, the people of Asbury Park elected me to be a representative of the people for the ones that look like me, coming after me…We are going to lose this place,” alluding to the impact that gentrification is having on the school district by the changing demographics. When he his comments exceeded three minutes, Acting Board Chair Lesinski reminded him his time was up which caused him to walk off.
Following Remy, newly elected city council member Angela Ahbez-Anderson, herself a former board member and president, also took to the podium to advocate for the students and admonished some teachers, defending Dr. Adams. “When a teacher is enthusiastic about teaching, a child is enthusiastic about learning…This man has come here to hold you accountable, and you don’t like it.”
After Ahbez-Anderson’s comments, Board member Remy began to walk out the door and Barbara Lesinski who was acting Board Chair, followed him to convince him to remain. At that point, the meeting imploded. Board members were in heated discussions with members of the public and members of the public were shouting at each other. Eventually, the meeting was brought back together and the Board officially went into executive session.