Christopher Piechocki became the third person to resign from the Bayonne Board of Education in less than two months, further depleting the Board of Trustees and nearly hampering its ability move on measures.
Piechocki was appointed a trustee in late 2014 to fill an unexpired term. When the board switched to an elected one last year, he ran last November and was successful in obtaining a new, three-year term. It was to expire Dec. 31, 2018.
Piechocki’s resignation comes at a time when the board is already understaffed. Vice President Ava Mitchell left in December because of additional professional responsibilities and President Will Lawson left in January following the trustees’ Jan. 7 meeting, when he was replaced as president.
The resignation of Piechocki, a local real-estate agent, has thrown the board into a tough situation. With trustee Ted Garelick on vacation last week, every remaining trustee had to attend the trustees’ workshop on Feb. 18 or there would not have been a quorum, or enough members to call for a vote, according to Board Secretary Gary Maita.
“We never had this many resignations at one time,” Maita said. He applauded the current six members for working to get things done.
“I need to be involved in my family support system right now.” – Christopher Piechocki
He said, “They’re coming to committee meetings. They’re meeting with the superintendent. They’re doing the best they can under the conditions.”
Piechocki stated he left because his brother is terminally ill with brain cancer and he wants to spend more time with him.
“I need to be involved in my family support system right now,” he said.
Piechocki said that since the board has a number of big issues it’s dealing with now, he didn’t feel it right for him to stay unless he could give the high-level of commitment he wanted to.
Piechocki’s departure also leaves the board with only two trustees with more than six weeks experience. Although only serving 16 months, Piechocki was one of the more senior members of the board. Garelick and Mikel Lawandy are the only two who have served longer.
Will be missed on trustee board
“Chris was an ally on the board who was committed to transparency and positive change, not just on the Board of Education, but for the entire community,” said board trustee Christopher Munoz. “I know this must have been a difficult decision for him, but I feel he made the right one; family first. My thoughts and prayers are with trustee Piechocki and his family during this difficult time.”
Piechocki feels he made a difference on the board.
“I think I’ve made some decisions that helped bring change,” he said.
Process for new appointed trustees
The board had been an appointed one for about 35 years. A 2014 referendum passed by city residents changed it to an elected one, resulting in last year’s election of new Board President Joseph Broderick, Ava Finnerty, Denis Wilbeck, Munoz, and Piechocki.
When trustees leave midterm they are selected by the remaining trustees in private session, following application submissions, interviews with a board committee, and presentations at a public meeting.
Maita is now advertising for applicants for Piechocki’s seat, like he did following Mitchell’s resignation on Dec. 31 and Lawson’s on Jan. 8. The call for applicants after Mitchell’s resignation drew 13 people, with one later dropping out. Advertisements to fill Lawson’s seat attracted six applicants, with one of those also dropping out.
Mitchell’s and Lawson’s successors will be selected at the board’s Feb. 24 meeting. The replacement for Piechocki will likely be selected at a March meeting.
Trustees on the selection committee are Finnerty, Lawandy, Munoz, and Wilbeck.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.