School board deadlocks in selecting top officers
The Board of Education's top leadership posts will be vacant for at least several weeks as board members deadlocked Tuesday in votes to elect both a chairman and vice chairman.
Jessica Gerber, the board's secretary who was re-elected to that post, will serve as interim chairwoman until the seat is filled on a permanent basis.
Philip Dwyer, the current chairman, was nominated to serve in that post a third year by Marc Patten, while Paul Fattibene, the board's vice chairman, was nominated to serve as chairman by Donna Karnal.
But the school board deadlocked 4-4 in votes on both Dwyer and Fattibene. The board has nine members, but John Convertito was absent Tuesday because he was out of state with family members, according to Dwyer.
Board members who cast votes in favor of Dwyer were Patten, Dwyer, Maxon-Kennelly and Gerber, while Fattibene was backed by Karnal, Fattibene, Liu-McCormack and Llewellyn.
"So right now, we don't have a chairman," said Superintendent of Schools David G. Title, who moderated the board's nominations and votes for officers. "Let's go onto the next one."
But the school board also deadlocked 4-4 on who should be vice chairman.
Liu-McCormack nominated Karnal to serve as vice chairman, and Fattibene nominated Dwyer. Dwyer, however, declined to accept the nomination, and the board deadlocked 4-4 on Karnal, with Liu-McCormack, Karnal, Fattibene and Llewellyn voting in favor, and Gerber, Dwyer, Maxon-Kennelly and Patten opposed.
"So we don't have a vice chairman," Title said. "Let's try secretary."
The school board had better luck in electing a secretary, the third and final position up for a vote Tuesday.
Patten nominated Gerber to serve another year as secretary, while Liu-McCormack nominated Llewellyn. But Llewellyn declined to accept the nomination, and the board voted 6-2 in favor of Gerber, with Liu-McCormack and Llewellyn opposed.
"Ms. Gerber, you are the one and only officer elected tonight," Title said.
Gerber was not only elected secretary but also served as chairwoman during Tuesday's board meeting. Title said the school board's bylaws say the secretary serves as acting chairman of the board until the board is able to elect a chairman. Title said the board might want to elect an acting secretary at its next meeting Monday to lessen the workload on Gerber.
Despite the special already scheduled for Monday, board members decided to revisit the elections on Dec. 9 after Liu-McCormack said she may not be able to attend Monday's meeting. All nine board members are expected to be present at the Dec. 9 meeting.
If the deadlock continues in the event that one member of the panel abstains from a vote, then the Board of Selectmen will decide who the new chairman and vice chairman will be, according to Title.
Llewellyn questioned whether that instead was the responsibility of the Representative Town Meeting, but Title said the state statute regarding the election of school board officers is "very clear that it goes to the selectmen."
In a break from past practice, no school board member seconded nominations for chairman or vice chairman, nor did any board member publicly support or oppose the candidates. The candidates for chairman and vice chairman also did not speak.
Near the end of Tuesday's meeting, Patten and Fattibene complimented Gerber for how well she ran the meeting as acting chairwoman. "You did a great job," Fattibene told Gerber.