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Edward Pearce Disqualified From Service on Township Board of Education

The board has 65 days to interview interested candidates and select a replacement.

Edward Pearce was disqualified by the State Department of Education from service on the Gloucester BOE following completion of his background check. (Patch file photo)
Edward Pearce was disqualified by the State Department of Education from service on the Gloucester BOE following completion of his background check. (Patch file photo)
A Gloucester Township Board of Education member whose swift swearing in was criticized by residents was disqualified from board service by the State Department of Education, according to a video posted online.

Edward Pearce was disqualified upon the Department of Education’s completion of Pearce’s background check. The reason for Pearce’s disqualification was unknown.

Because Pearce was legally seated, all decisions he made as a member of the Board of Education will stand, according to state law. The State of New Jersey conducts background checks on board of education members after they are elected into office.

Pearce was chosen by the board in December from a group of 16 candidates to fill the final year of Andrew Lalli’s term.Lalli resigned in November, less than a week after the Board of Education elections.

He was sworn in less than a week later, drawing the fire of critics from the public who questioned the speed of his appointment, the swearing in and his credentials. Pearce is a local union official and lacks a college degree.

Some board members were even surprised by how quickly Pearce was sworn in.

Board members defended his selection, citing his background in labor acting as a strength when it came to negotiations.

The Board of Education has 65 days from the effective date of Pearce’s disqualification to name a replacement. It is permitted to interview interested members of the public and vote for the candidate they feel is the most qualified during a public session.

If the board doesn’t fill the vacancy within 65 days, Interim Camden County Executive Superintendent C. Ann Volk would name the replacement.

One resident in attendance at the meeting suggested on the video that the board allow the county to name the replacement as the board “had the opportunity and failed miserably.”

Another resident expressed concern that someone with a criminal background sat in closed session discussions with the Board of Education and discussed confidential matters relating to the township’s children.

Gloucester Township Superintendent of Schools John Bilodeau didn’t return a phone message seeking comment on Thursday.

Volk didn’t return a phone message seeking comment on Thursday.

The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Monday night at the Anne A. Mullen Middle School.

Bob Kola February 21, 2014 at 04:42 AM
In a related story, Patch apparantly has 65 days to report on and post hyper-local news. They are creating a new category to file their posts under: Better Late Than Never.
Joe February 21, 2014 at 07:23 AM
We really have a right to know why this guy has been canned following a background check. It might say something about the people who selected him, since it's obvious the fix was in. Also, he not having a degree makes no difference. Someone with business savy and common sense may be much better.
Jennifer February 21, 2014 at 07:36 AM
"Because Pearce was legally seated, all decisions he made as a member of the Board of Education will stand, according to state law. " - according to John Wade's interpretation of state law.
j caresl February 21, 2014 at 07:45 AM
The residences at the meeting stepped up for all other residence, I applied their actions. My concern now is the incompetence of the current officials to work in accordance with the set guidelines. There is some obvious incompetence with the current board and it needs to be addresses. With the school system being such a large percentage of residence tax dollars this behavior is unacceptable. Accountability for these action is necessary. Mr Bilodeau no response raises more issues as to his ability to monitor the board. Do any of theses official have a clear grasp of their duties to the tax payers or must we clean house and ask the residences that sat in on the meeting to properly conduct this service?
R. Liddell February 21, 2014 at 08:47 AM
How disrespectful to those other candidates who were highly qualified to take on this responsibility. Don't tell us that he didn't know about his record before he submitted his application. What a way to treat people who are seriously trying to make a difference by serving in their community. How dishonorable? The unraveling should begin here.
Bea Coyle February 21, 2014 at 09:14 AM
Where is the Law written so that we the Public may read it for ourselves? It seems that Mr.Wade, the School Board Lawyer, said it was legal for Pearce to vote but could not provide written proof when asked to do so. Why not ? If it is legal where is the legal paper work to support that statement ? Can Patch or anyone supply that proof? Lets not forget that Pearce was APPOINTED by the Board of Education not Elected by the people. Also Pearce was more than a Union Official, he was serving on a Gloucester Township Planning Board,and he was a devoted member of the Team Mayor Democratic Party. Residents felt these ties got him appointed over a very qualified Teacher and a Lawyer who graduated West Point.Both were extremely well qualified in matters important to any School Board. Glad to see you wrote something about this issue but please give all the correct information. A fact is only a fact IF it can be proven. Saying so doesn't make it law. Lets see some written documentation.
Caring4GT February 21, 2014 at 09:44 AM
How about some coverage of the union goons Pearce brought to school board meetings to intimidate and bully moms who spoke out against him? What's that? Crickets? That's what we thought. Bunch of Team Mayer bullies, but move along. Nothing to see here.
D.Brown February 21, 2014 at 11:07 AM
You don't have to have a college degree to get on the board, if we used that thinking Bill Gates would not be able to do anything. But we know that Team Mayer did push this appointment, and we should be given a reason for his failure on the background check. Hopefully thee committee will learn something out of this as the kids in our community need to be taught in the school system.
Pete Heinbaugh February 21, 2014 at 12:55 PM
When you combine this fact: "Someone with a criminal background sat in closed session discussions with the Board of Education and discussed confidential matters relating to the township’s children."; with this legal concept: "If there is a public interest in disclosure that outweighs the privacy interest, the information should be disclosed."; I think it should be demanded that the GTBOE disclose the details of Mr. Pearce's failed background check.
Caring4GT February 21, 2014 at 01:27 PM
Very good Pete, more common sense. Thank you!!! A Caring friend commented on our Facebook page that the taxpayers of GT should stop paying our taxes until these corrupt thugs masquerading as public servants are gone or start listing to the public. We agree.
Paul J. DiBartolo February 21, 2014 at 02:04 PM
Oh good, a tax holiday...forever:-)
l t Paine February 21, 2014 at 06:06 PM
A teacher and a lawyer the graduated West Point and Bilodeau, Board President Gunn, Coyle and Carr felt a man that couldn't even pass a criminal background check was the best qualified individual for the vacant board seat. That should tell you a lot about the people making decisions for the District, quite simply they are incompetent and taking care of political friends will come before the children of this district. Don't expect Bilodeau to speak up against Gunn, Carr and Coyle he was handpicked by Collins, Carr, Coyle and Gunn and we have seen how well they do making important decisions regarding the District. Time to clean house and elect and hire competent Board members and Administrators.
Paul J. DiBartolo February 21, 2014 at 07:04 PM
The fact is that there are not enough people showing interest in what is going on. What you have at the meetings (Council and B.O.E.) right now can only be classified as watchdogs of the bulldog variety. We lock on and keep shaking hoping something will shake loose but nothing will change until these meetings begin to be packed with residents who demand answers and a change. I'm doubtful...
Bea Coyle February 22, 2014 at 08:24 AM
Misconduct,corruption and the like NEED people to become discouraged,doubtful,and to give up.This is what they have had for a long time,free rein. The group of concerned people at BOE Meetings has grown .The questions have increased,even those who do not speak are supplying information and they are watching,listening and helping anyway they can. Change takes time.This blatant slip up with Pearce is an eye opener to people who where not informed. That is the key getting all the information out there for residents to see and hear. For those Parents,Grandparents and People who have been at this for the last year and a half do not retreat now. Not when the number of supporters is growing. Right now a Board seat will be filled. Make it your priority to see that our School Board selects a person with ethics and knowledge ,not a friend or a political choice. In November help to get those Board Members who have failed our children in the past with their decisions removed and Elect people you can trust. Have you ever heard the old saying," Show me your company and I'll tell you who you are". Residents have been trying hard for over a year now to question and force the BOE to listen and they see many people have joined them. If you are reading this now you can join in and help too. Who would willingly send their children to a School District with so many past failings and who clearly is not putting the children FIRST ? Adjust your time and come out and support what the children deserve. It is YOUR tax dollars paying their salaries, its your RIGHT to demand answers.
l t Paine February 22, 2014 at 09:06 AM
The Board is running the show they have their puppet Bilodeau out front to afraid to speak or take a stand handed the Superintendent job IN SPITE of his credentials., zero teaching experience. Don't forget Acerba our curriculum Supervisor, Board handed her the job even though she failed miserably ar Mullen as Principal. This Board doesn't want real leaders they want nice quiet puppets as Administrators so they can continue to treat the district as their own "Golden Goose" and find jobs for friends, hand contracts to politically connected contractors and treat the District and it's students and employees as their own little kingdom. When the public dares to ask questions they ignore disrespect and even try to intimidate them. Sorry to say Board members the party is almost over, people are fed up and rising up they are tired of incompetence, arrogance, corruption and excuses. They want accountability and real Administrators and Board Members concerned with the children not what they can do for their friends.
Jennifer February 22, 2014 at 10:35 AM
SO many people have SO much to say……but it's ONLY the same 2 people, month after month, saying it in the right place. We will give up eventually. Not because we never get anywhere with the board, it will be because of the lack of public willing to do the same thing.
Bob Kola February 22, 2014 at 11:30 AM
If the School Board and Township Council didn't hold their meetings on the same night you might have 3 to 5 more people at both.
Bea Coyle February 22, 2014 at 12:07 PM
That is exactly why they hold meetings at the same time. Their goal is to discourage people from attending. And when a large crowd does come out and it has ,they call in the Police to stand guard over them. Funny tho the night Pearces "friend"confronted a Mom to intimidate her, they didn't have a Police Officer present. Like everything else its just all about them.
Paul J. DiBartolo February 22, 2014 at 02:12 PM
The message from GT leadership is loud and clear..."Shut up and sit down!" In other words...B.O.E. -> "Tell the Council to switch their meeting night." GT Council -> "Our meeting agenda is set for the year." Bottom line from both of these entities, "It doesn't matter what the people want, they're only good for paying the bills."


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