14 candidates for 5 seats

TEANECK — Fourteen candidates have filed for the five open seats on the Board of Education in November’s general election.

The five seats — three three-year terms and two unexpired one-year terms — constitute a voting majority of the nine-member council. Typically, only three seats are in place each year. However, two trustees elected in 2020 – Harold Clark and Damen Cooper – resigned earlier this year before the end of their first terms, creating two additional open seats.

The crowded race is a reaction to the departure of controversial Superintendent Christopher Irving, who left the district on July 1 after a year of public arguments with administrators. Members of the district’s various educational philosophies are vying for a place at the table to determine his successor.

Three incumbents are eligible for re-election for three-year terms: Chairman Sebastian Rodriguez and directors Denise Sanders and Linda Burns. However, only two of the three incumbents are running, Rodriguez and Sanders, and they are only running for unexpired one-year terms.

Adding to the confusion, only one of the two directors named to fill the Clark/Cooper vacancies is running. Former three-term trustee Clara Williams, nominated to fill Cooper’s seat until the election, is seeking her fourth three-year term instead. Sharon Vatsky, nominated to fill Clark’s seat, did not show up.

RUSH EXPECTEDFive places to win in November

SUPERINTENDENT RESIGNSEnd of a year of conflict with the school board

The remaining candidates with Williams for one of three three-year terms are Hussein Halak, Kathryn Scheinder, Gnesha Shain, Edard Ha, David Gruber, Kassandra Reyes, Michael Reich and Darryl Greene.

Green is running on a “Take this Village” slate with Lori Bullock, who is running for one of two unexpired one-year terms. Besides Rodriguez and Sanders, the other candidates for one year are Naveed Ahmad and Yassine Elkaryani.

While school board elections are nonpartisan, the shifting candidates suggest ideological alliances are competing to see who will dominate in the superintendent’s decision.

Map of Teaneck High School from the colluseum

Irving was a controversial second-round pick for the district when he was hired in May 2018. He previously headed two nonprofits and had never taught or worked in a school.

Irving received a five-year contract renewal in 2020, presumably signaling the district’s satisfaction with his work. A year later, however, council attorney Philip Stern circulated a memo to trustees saying they had “irretrievably lost faith in the superintendent” for unstated reasons.

The board nearly voted on a resolution to suspend Irving last July when he inexplicably tabled the motion and publicly stated he looked forward to working with him.

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