ATLANTIC CITY — The school board’s scheduled 2021 reorganization was convened via Zoom on Wednesday evening despite a notice from the district in the morning that it was being moved, but lack of a quorum ended the meeting before it began.
Members Patricia Bailey, Walter Johnson, Shay Steele, Ruth Byard and Subrata Chowdhury did not attend the meeting while members John Devlin, Farook Hossain, Albert Herbert, Kazi Islam and Ventnor representative Joe McDevitt did attend. Because six members are required for a quorum, the meeting could not be conducted.
Devlin, who was scheduled to be sworn in along with Bailey and Johnson, said he received notice Wednesday that the board meeting was being moved by Superintendent Barry Caldwell.
“Barry Caldwell can’t make that decision; the decision can only be made by the board president to postpone the meeting,” said Devlin, who was appointed board president at the 2020 reorganization meeting.
Caldwell contends that Devlin was no longer president as of Dec. 31, and that board Secretary Angela Brown was able to move the meeting under state statute.
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“Until reorganization, the board secretary has control of the process. We have several serious issues going on with a current board member that, along with things that I can’t discuss at this time, that prompted me to look at moving the meeting to Monday, not for anything other than having an issue play out in a public meeting,” Caldwell said.
Devlin claims Caldwell’s moving of the meeting was a way to stop his faction of the board from reseating him as president.
State law requires the board hold its annual reorganization meeting within the first seven days of the year.
“If the organization meeting cannot take place on the scheduled date for lack of a quorum, or any other reason, the organization meeting must be properly advertised and held within three days of the original reorganization date,” reads a 2012 memo on the matter from the state Department of Education provided by Devlin’s attorney.
Since the board’s original reorganization meeting was scheduled for Jan. 6, the reorganization meeting would need to be scheduled on or before Sunday, Devlin said.
Despite the dispute, the reorganization meeting is now scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday via Zoom.