ADDING: See the comments: iwood adds some information that makes this story seem a bit less nefarious than originally reported.
The questions remain: did this meeting take place? Who was there? What was discussed given the title of the email?
I am in no position to confirm this story from the Hudson Reporter. But if it is true, it is explosive:
JERSEY CITY – The same week that Ward E City Councilman (and future mayoral contender) Steven Fulop had to explain more than $18,000 in campaign donations from a law firm with ties to Spectra Energy, an e-mail was leaked from the 2013 mayoral candidate’s personal gmail account in which he invites an inner circle of school board members to what appears to be a secret meeting.
Sent under the subject heading “Cerf meeting,” the May 2, 2011 e-mail from Fulop reads: “Please keep in confidence as always. We are meeting at 274 Arlington Ave. tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. See you then.”
According to one source, 274 Arlington Ave. was a vacant residential property at the time of the meeting. Chris Cerf is the acting commissioner of education for the state of New Jersey.
The e-mail was sent to Sterling Waterman, who at the time was president of the Jersey City Board of Education; Carol Lester, vice-president at the time of the meeting; Carol Harrison-Arnold and Marvin Adames, who had been elected to the board just days earlier, on April 27 – but had not been sworn in yet; Ellen Simon, founder of Parents for Progress; and Shelley Skinner, deputy director of Better Education for Kids, a school choice advocacy group. Fulop’s e-mail was also sent to Leda Duif Shumbris, Mohamed Akil, and Tine Pahl.
The timing of the e-mail and Arlington Avenue meeting are significant as they came just one week after Fulop-backed candidates won control of the Board of Education. These events also took place at a time when the Board of Education was gearing up to oust Dr. Charles Epps as the superintendent of schools and conduct a national search for his successor.
School board members Suzanne Mack, Angel Valentin, and Sean Connors were not invited to the meeting.
If Cerf did indeed meet with only some members of the JCBOE in secret, it is highly unethical. I can’t speak to the legality, but the Sunshine Laws seem to be very clear about not allowing this sort of meeting.
This is an serious charge, especially since the board just hired a new superintendent who, like Cerf, is a graduate of the Broad Superintendent’s Academy, the controversial California group funded by Eli Broad.
We’ll be watching this very carefully.