IRVINGTON, NJ — According to Acting Irvington Board of Education President Richard Williams, the board elected a new president and vice president at its regular meeting on Wednesday, May 15, and Anthony Vauss Jr. was appointed to fill the seat of former board member Jamillah Beasley-McCleod, who was appointed as South Ward councilwoman in April. Anthony Vauss Jr. is the son of Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss.
“Glen Vick is the new president and Audrey Lyons is the new vice president,” said Williams, on Monday, June 3. Williams has served as acting president since former President Romaine Graham was appointed in February to serve the remainder of former Essex County Freeholder Lebby Jones’ term on the Board of Chosen Freeholders. Jones died of cancer in January.
“It is not unusual for the president and the vice president to be filled when they have reorganization meetings. It has been going on for years. Both people are qualified and their heart is in the right position, so I’m happy for them,” Williams said, adding that he’s happy Vauss Jr. was chosen to fill Beasley-McCleod’s seat on the board.
“Our board members, regardless of what people think about them, they’re busting their butts behind the scenes for free. So if you’re on the IBOE, then you’re not going to make a dime. We just do this for love of the state and love of the city.”
Beasley-McCleod agreed with Williams and said she’s happy Vauss Jr. will be serving in her old board seat because he is a perfect example of the public service ethos her father, former Municipal Council President, Essex County Freeholder and Team Irvington social and political organization co-founder, D. Bilal Beasley, instilled in her.
“He’s one of our younger active people in the community,” said Beasley-McCleod on Monday, June 3. “He’s one of our young active leaders and very deserving of the appointment. He’s going to do an awesome job as a board member.”
The mayor said he’s proud the board chose his son to serve the school district, in addition to his current duties on the Irvington Public Library Board of Directors and as confidential aide to the mayor.
The mayor served multiple terms on BOE, including consecutive times as board president, prior to being elected mayor in 2014.
“I think Glen Vick is going to do a wonderful job as board president,” said Vauss Sr. on Tuesday, June 4. “As you can see, there are interchangeable parts. There’s been a lot of movement on the board recently. People have to be prepared to step and do the people’s work.”
When Graham was appointed freeholder and Beasley-McCleod was appointed to fill former South Ward Councilwoman Sandy Jones’ vacant Municipal Council seat, after her death from a heart attack on Thursday, March 21, this left vacancies on Irvington’s Board of Education that had to be filled in the same year Williams and two other incumbent board members were up for re-election.
Syesha Benbow was appointed to fill Graham’s old BOE seat, and now Vauss Jr. has been appointed to fill Beasley-McCleod’s old seat, but the mayor said he expects even more movement on the board, now that Melody Scott has also resigned from the BOE.
“It’s still the analogy of basketball. You can be on the team on the bench, but when your number’s called, you have to be ready to go in the game and perform,” Vauss Sr. said. “Melody Scott performed well when she was on the board. I wish her and her family well.”
Vauss also said his son’s new board seat might open up sooner than expected, too.
“It’s the same process to fill Melody’s seat that was used to fill Romaine and Jamillah’s seats,” he said. “But Junior might have to give up his new seat because he’s enrolled at Pillar College and there might be a scheduling conflict between his classes and his ability to attend meetings and serve on the school board and the library board. He has a meeting with the dean. We’ll find out about his status soon.”
Meanwhile, Vauss said the BOE would fill the vacancy appropriately.
“The procedure is this: The school board now has to advertise for the vacant position,” said Vauss on Tuesday, Feb. 26, after Graham was appointed to fill Lebby Jones’ freeholder seat. “They’ll accept resumes; then, at the next school board meeting, they will select from the resumes they received and that person will be appointed to fill the unexpired term. It’s voted on by the school board members. Send any resumes from anybody who’s interested.”
Williams said he’s happy about the board’s new leadership and excited about the prospect of bringing new members onto the board.
“I’m happy the way that things are and I’m looking forward to having another good year,” said Williams. “What is leadership? John C. Maxwell, in the book ‘The 5 Principles of Leadership,’ on Page two, paragraph two, line one, he answers what leadership is. Leadership is influence. Now all members of the Irvington Board of Education have influence, regardless of whether they are the president or vice president.”
Williams, a retired educator and former principal in the Newark school system, said what matters is how leaders use their influence and he plans to continue using his personal influence on the BOE to benefit Irvington.
“We had an audit and we had zero findings. I’m just happy,” Williams said. “We can account for every dollar that’s been spent by the IBOE since that monitor, Frank Sinatra, left. So we’re doing OK. “
Williams said he knows that “OK” is still not good enough.
“We’re still not where we should be with test scores, but we’re moving forward. We’re doing better, little bit by little bit,” said Williams. “Most of the students who stay in Irvington usually do well by the time they get into high school. But we get a lot of movement and people who come into the district with learning challenges. We have a lot of problems that we have to deal with and we’re dealing with them.”