The Brick Township Board of Education voted in a 3-3 tie to reappoint John Talty to the board Monday night, lacking a majority and resulting in a failed vote. Talty’s own seat was up for appointment since he resigned in April after undergoing open heart surgery, but after his recovery improved, sought to rescind his resignation.
The vote Monday night was essentially a repeat of a vote that took place May 28, when board members Frank Pannucci, Jr., Michael Conti and John Barton voted against allowing Talty to rescind his resignation. Board President Sharon Cantillo, and board members Karyn Cusanelli and Susan Suter voted in favor of reappointing Talty.
Likewise, Pannucci, Conti and Barton favored appointing Brenda Calderone, who unsuccessfully ran for the board in 2012, to the position. In that vote, Cantillo, Cusanelli and Suter voted against Calderone.
Political overtones were omnipresent during the meeting. Calderone ran for the board in 2012 alongside Pannucci and Conti, in what was largely considered a ticket aligned with the township Republican organization. Pannucci and Conti are currently Republican candidates for township council.
In addition to Talty and Calderone, former board members Larry Reid and Walter Campbell applied, along with residents Lenny Figula, Victor Finamore, Patricia Marsden, Lois Turner and George White.
After votes to renominate Talty and Calderone both resulted in the same outcome as their first attempts, Cusanelli read a portion of the state’s education statute which instructs board members to “refuse to surrender my independent judgment to special interest or partisan political groups.”
Pannucci said he favored appointing Calderone to the board because she “brings another perspective” to the board, specifically the special education community. Calderone serves as president of the Special Education PTA.
“She brings a different perspective than any of us can bring to this board,” said Pannucci.
Cusanelli then said Barton, a special education teacher, brings such a perspective the board.
Public comment was squarely in support of Talty’s reappointment.
“He was elected, he earned his seat,” said Nan Coll. “He showed moral character when he thought he wasn’t up to doing it properly, putting in a resignation. And now that he’s in good health and feels he can fulfill all of the work, I think the right thing to do is put John back on.
“I truly, truly believe that this board, at this time, needs someone with the experience he has,” said Melanie Briggs, referring to Talty.
“In everything he does, he tries to help everybody,” said Joe Coutant. “We’d have a great loss if we don’t put him in. He really deserves that seat. It was his and he should have it. He was one of the best board members I can remember and he well-deserves his seat back.”
Ultimately, the board decided that scheduling another meeting to discuss the matter would prove fruitless, and voted to send all of the resumes collected to the Ocean County Superintendent of Schools, who will choose one of the nine.