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County Superintendent Selects Former NJ Education Commissioner to Fill Talty’s Brick BOE Seat

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John Talty was not selected by the Ocean County executive superintendent of schools to fill his own seat that was vacated after he resigned earlier this year while recovering from open heart surgery. Instead, Todd C. Flora selected Vito A. Gagliardi, of Faber Lane, to fill the seat.

The selection was confirmed by Board of Education President Sharon Cantillo.

Vito A. Gagliardi
Vito A. Gagliardi

Gagliardi’s connections to education run deep in New Jersey. In 2001, he was appointed state Commissioner of Education by then-Acting Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco. Ironically, Gagliardi succeeded David C. Hespe, who is currently serving another term as commissioner. Before being selected as commissioner, Gagliardi was employed as a classroom teacher, school principal and superintendent, serving stints as the Union County superintendent of schools and the superintendent of that county’s vocational school district.

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From 1994 to 1997, Gagliardi was an education policy adviser to DiFrancesco, who was then serving as state Senate president before becoming acting governor after the resignation of former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman. From 1997 to 2000, he was a special assistant to the Commissioner of Education.

Flora informed district officials of his selection Wednesday, and apparently also informed the officials that Gagliardi will be a conflicted board member since he has a relative who works in the Brick school district. The exact nature of his conflict was not clear.

Talty requested to rescind his resignation after his recovery from the surgery improved, but the remaining six board members deadlocked on allowing him to do so. Cantillo and board members Karyn Cusanelli and Susan Suter favored his return, but board members Frank Pannucci, Jr., Michael Conti and John Barton did not support the rescission measure. After the board members could not agree on a replacement – one night, seven separate votes were taken which all deadlocked – the decision went to Flora.

A specific date for Gagliardi to be sworn in has not yet been selected. The August meeting of the board will be held on the 27th, though there may be a special meeting at some point in the month before then during which Gagliardi could be administered the oath of office.