Byram school board president resigns after recall petition

Byram. The school board talked about filling the vacancy left by Andrew McElroy’s resignation and parents’ determination to get schools open again.

Byram /
| 19 Jan 2021 | 05:23

What would ordinarily be a short reorganization meeting turned into more than an hour of public discussion about how and why Andrew McElroy resigned as president of the Byram Township Board of Education.

His resignation from the board was effective Dec. 22.

During the Jan. 6 meeting, board members and parents discussed options to safely reopen schools, along with the Recall Committee’s petition to recall McElroy’s election.

Members of the Recall Committee said they are devoted to transparency in the school district and getting their kids back into school five days a week. They said they are determined to exercise their rights as American taxpayers and parents.

In accordance with state and county recommendations, the Byram Township School District has been on a rotating hybrid schedule of virtual and in-person classes, where social distancing guidelines are observed to protect students and teachers from Covid-19.

MaryAnn Risley, who was unanimously elected school board president on Jan. 6, said the board is accepting letters of interest, resumes, and applications until Jan. 22 for the board vacancy created by McElroy’s resignation. The board will interview interested applicants at the next meeting on Jan. 27, then appoint their choice to complete McElroy’s term through 2021. The new board member will be sworn in at the board’s February meeting.

At the end of 2021, a new election will choose a board member to complete McElroy’s term through 2022.

Charles Kranz unanimously elected school board vice president.

Diffusing the situation

Superintendent John Fritzky held two meetings explaining the challenges in keeping the schools open five days a week: a nearly two-hour conversation with Reopening Committee parents on Jan. 12, and a Zoom webinar discussion with residents later that week.

Byram Mayor Alexander Rubenstein, the township council’s school board liaison, said during the Reopening Committee meeting that Fritzky answered parents’ questions. Among the topics discussed were teachers on Covid-19 leave, retirements, substitute teacher shortages, the loss of millions of dollars in state aid, and the exposure to lawsuits, should harm befall a teacher or student, if the district did not follow state, county, and federal Covid-19 guidance.

During the Zoom discussion, Fritzky spent an hour and a half answering residents’ questions about reopening schools.