Township BOE Chooses Board Replacement from 16 Candidates in 3-Hour Meeting

Edward Pearce was selected Wednesday to fill the unexpired term of Andrew Lalli on the Gloucester Township school board.

Edward Pearce is the newest Gloucester Township school board member.
Edward Pearce is the newest Gloucester Township school board member.
The Gloucester Township Board of Education on Wednesday chose Edward Pearce from a field of 16 candidates to fill a vacant board seat.  

The board interviewed 14 of the 16 candidates it considered in just under two hours, then went into a hour-long, closed-door executive session, emerging just before 8:30 p.m. to elect Pearce, a Teamsters union official. 

The five board members who voted for him all cited his background in labor and contract negotiations as a reason for voting for him. Board members Raymond Carr, William Collins, Maryanne Coyle, Joseph Gunn, and William Fontanez voted for Pearce, the only candidate to be nominated.

Linda Gilch and Ellen Reese voted against Pearce. Board member Felicia Reid was not present at the vote. 

Pearce will fill the final year of Andrew Lalli's term and the position will be on the ballot next fall for a full, three-year term. 

"I've got time available now that my boys have gotten older," said Pearce, 55, who has lived in the township for 22 years and has sons in college. "It gives you some self satisfaction being involved, trying to do good for the community. It certainly wasn't for the money."

Board members receive no salary. Pearce will be sworn in in January.
Bea Coyle December 12, 2013 at 06:26 AM
This is an insult to all Parents of Gloucester Township Children. Mr Pearce did not mention at his interview that he is a Member of the Gloucester Township Zoning and Planning Board along with Mr.Gunn and Mr. Bucceroni. Nor did Mr. Pearce or the Board mention that he hosted a BBQ just this summer for the re-election of Mayor Mayer and Gilch,Reese and Collins. Mr.Fontanez ,School Board Member,and also having been on the Gloucester Township Planning Board himself in the past did not mention Mr.Pearce's strong connection to the Democratic Party and Township either. However, it was clear to everyone in attendance when AFTER being selected Mr.Fontanez hugged Mr Pearce as good old buddies do. There were several people applying for this seat far more qualified. A West Point Graduate and father of 4 children attending our schools with a vested interest in Education.He was also a Lawyer and quite intelligent. Or the Teacher who applied with 17 years of Educational experience as well as Anti Bullying experience and he too had a vested interest in our schools with two children attending and knowledge of Special Needs children. Clearly everyone sees this as a Political move. The best most qualified person was not chosen! The Democratic person was given this seat by this all Democratic Board. What a disgrace. This Board proved tonight without a doubt that the Best interest of Children is not first and foremost in their eyes. Something we have long suspected.Shame on all of you. To the two woman who voted NO to this selection ,Keep up the good work do not allow them to BULLY you out of your Vote in the future. To Mrs. Coyle and all the men on the Board; How can you people sleep at night ?
Jennifer December 12, 2013 at 06:33 AM
For once, I have nothing to say. But I sure will find my voice by Monday night!
Bea Coyle December 12, 2013 at 06:49 AM
I am sorry for an error above ....It was Mr. GUNN who hugged and congratulated Mr. Pearce as Good Old Buddies Do.
Bea Coyle December 12, 2013 at 07:02 AM
Jennifer; A blatant disregard for Parents and Voters wishes and abuse of Elected Power that this Board displays will render an honest person MOMENTARILY speechless.
l t Paine December 12, 2013 at 07:03 AM
Well if no other move prior to this proved to you that this Board is run with a political agenda as opposed to an agenda of children first and best qualified candidate for the position then people are blind. Hopefully this will be the move to finally ignite people into action and to finally speak up. Add this to the list of questionable hires or appointees - Bilodeau, Superintendent, zero classroom experience, Acerba Curriculum Supervisor, led a failing Middle School for years then has to hire outside firm to help her do her job, Mercado Township councilman hired to created position, Ridgeway, Bilodeau's ex secretary goes from secretary salary to $86000 per year, Dr. Martin who leads Special Services at odds with members of her own department and parents and even accused of using a derogatory name for some of the children she was hired to help and serve. They said this appointment was is part because of his experience with contracts, thought teachers and Support Staff just settled multi year contracts? You would think the more pressing need would have been to appoint somebody with an educational background to help address the issue of our failing schools or our bullying issue. Once agin this Board proves that it's not about children first, it's about taking care of your political friends. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!
Paul J. DiBartolo December 12, 2013 at 07:40 AM
But...but...but...it must have been fair and non-partisan. Why, look, there were two votes against so it couldn't have been planned and therefore it must have been fair... Excuse me if I don't think this is anything more that theatrics. Since when did Gilch and Reese find their voices and their consciences? Let me posit this scenario for you... Remove Collins' vote since he's history, or geography, or whatever he is, and throw that vote to incoming Gagliardi. Let's take it another step and posit that Gagliardi would vote AGAINST...just sayin'. Now bring Ms. Reid back (BTW, one has to wonder why she did not feel it important enough to vote...did she already know what was going down?) and let's posit that she also voted AGAINST! Instead of 5 FOR, 2 AGAINST, and 1 NO-VOTE, we end up with 4 to 4. Now we have a horse race... But you and I know that such a thing would never happen, ...after all, Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.
Bea Coyle December 12, 2013 at 08:06 AM
And that is exactly why this " Lame Duck Board" RUSHED to fill the seat in 11 days from Lall resigning when the law says they had 65 days to appoint someone.
l t Paine December 12, 2013 at 08:09 AM
GILCH and REESE have yet to show any backbone, conscience or ethics, Reid not sure what to make of her every time I am ready to give her a little credit she does somthing to change my mind. As for Coyle, Carr, Gunn and the rest of them you know what you are getting and I can tell you it's not public officials with the interests of Gloucester Township children first. It's about keeping a well oiled political machine running and fed at all exspense. As for Bilodeau and Acerba they are basically just puppets of this Board with hands anatomically placed working them. Neither one one dare come out with an opinion of their own. You would think parents would have been concerned enough to vote this Board out and end all this political game playing with their children's educational future at stake or that residents paying the local school tax would have said enough, but as much as I am appalled by the Board and Administration and their actions I am even more appalled by residents willingness to just accept it. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!
Dominic S. Gagliardi December 12, 2013 at 09:36 AM
No need to assume, Paul, I would NEVER have voted for Pearce, there were so many better qualified candidates. All the members who did have ensured that they will find no friend in me as I now see they can not be reasoned with. I am disgusted. And, regarding Gilch and Reese, I had a good conversation with them last night and can assure you that they were very upset by what happened. I was hesitant to even speak with them after the election, but I honestly believe they are good women who just may have finally had enough of the nonsense...and I think they might even be looking forward to working with me as I hope Reid does too because it was clear on Monday she does not support how this process happened. Additionally, I've spent a couple hours speaking with Bilodeau recently and believe he is desperate for change on the Board. Regardless of the criticisms of his qualifications, he's clearly trying hard to do what's best and the current Board is making that difficult. As disheartened as I am after what happened last night, I am beginning to think it may have been a last gasp act of desperation. Let's see how the Board acts come next month when I begin shining a light on everything. Whatever I can legally bring to the public, I will. Yet again, the Board is helping me find my "voice." Looking forward to Publius's comments since she kissed Pearce after he was chosen. How can the Board be so blind?!
Bea Coyle December 12, 2013 at 09:49 AM
The Board is not blind they are purely Political and the Residents of Gloucester Township need to change that come November when three seats will be up . The start was you getting on the Board ,someone who can't be Bullied and is honest.Next it needs to be 3 more people on the Board to help fight for the Childrens well being not any Political Party .November will be Voters deciding not a School Board handing their friend and fellow Democrat a seat just because they want to.There was NO way this man was the best qualified candidate and everyone knows that.
l t Paine December 12, 2013 at 09:58 AM
This Board will not listen to parents and residents until a bright light is shined on them and their actions. We need media involved television, newspapers, facebook anything that will bring attention to what is going on. As for Bilodeau, Dominic all I can say having worked in the District with Bilodeau, beware of the wolf in sheep's clothing. He will do and say whatever is needed to get what he wants, just ask employees in the District about the real Bilodeau and Acerba.
Jodi Logan December 12, 2013 at 10:02 AM
Wow, will we get a vote in June or Nov to choose, is he temporary?
Dominic S. Gagliardi December 12, 2013 at 10:08 AM
He is finishing Lalli's term and will be up for election in November along with Coyle and his friend Gunn.
Paul J. DiBartolo December 12, 2013 at 10:09 AM
I'm looking forward to your addition to the board, Dominic, and what might be a fresh start. Personally, I love pointing out the obvious to people since it is apparent that so many choose to ignore such and you seem like you might also function well in that mode. Good luck; if nothing else it will be interesting and a challenge that I'm sure you're up for.
l t Paine December 12, 2013 at 10:14 AM
Domonic just check history with GILCH and REESE ask about Bilodeau's suspension a few years back, ask about the recent monetary settlement with an employee about their termination, ask what happened to the mechanic who brought to attention to Seddon and the Board issues with Bilodeau. Well Bilodeau is still around and the mechanic is gone. Ask why so many competent and experienced Administrators and teachers gave up their tenure in the district to go to other Districts with no tenure rather than continue to work with Bilodeau and this Board. Talk to employees about what really goes on in this District, you will be shocked and saddened. While I wish you, Domonic all the best and hope you succeed I have to feel the odds are heavily against you.
Bea Coyle December 12, 2013 at 12:48 PM
The odds on the inside may be against him but the Support on the outside is large and growing every day.
John Reynolds December 12, 2013 at 07:47 PM
With all due respect to the parents and members of the community unhappy with the selection of Mr. Pearce, I thought it was a bold move on the part of the board to reach out and interview 14 prospective candidates, rejecting the unqualified, the frauds and self-seekers, taking it down to the wire after a grueling 3 hour session of heated debate, cursing, and rumored back-room fist-fighting. I've had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Pearce at a Team-Mayer BBQ rally this past summer with my friend Travis, and can attest to his qualifications – he's one hell-of-a BBQer and a swell fellow to boot.
Schu December 12, 2013 at 07:59 PM
If you expected this BOE to do the right thing then you're either a total moron or part of the problem.
Jane smith December 12, 2013 at 08:49 PM
This truly a scary group mr galliardi conversation reeks of divide and conquer I read one of his earlier comments. I talked with a teacher and he knows what is going on. One teacher has set your course of action? I fear for my children when I hear the negative there was a better candidate with an educational background when mr galliardi was elected. now if you don't agree with the pack you are a moron? That is a gang mentality the uninformed usually don't see anyone else point of view but their own. Division does not work the children will suffer. find your common ground.
Dominic S. Gagliardi December 12, 2013 at 11:36 PM
Jane, I have said all along that Sean Hengst was a better candidate and would happily give him my seat if it was possible. If you know how it can be done, please tell me and I will make it happen. He will be a primary resource for me on curriculum issues as he knows far more than anyone on the Board now. You need to research what happened to me when I decided to run as a result of actions taken by a current Board member. I have no doubt that I won because of those actions and the anger they created as a result. I never expected to even campaign hard until I was unjustly "attacked" and forced to fight a frivolous lawsuit. As I see it, the problem with the current Board is that there is no divide, no varying points-of-view, just countless 9-0 votes nearly always favoring political donors. I do not think it has been good for the schools and the education of our children...and MANY teachers and administrators agree with me. Feel free to read the School Board ethics laws that require no political partisanship by Board members and try to reconcile them with the political acts and fundraising of the current members. With all due respect, I was not elected to be their friend but to represent the over 4500 who voted for me and who want a parent of children currently in the schools to speak for them and bring a new perspective. I would hope to build friendships and cooperate with them as much as possible, but that can not be my main focus, and what I saw last night and was told by various members after the meeting, showed me that, sadly, it may not be possible. Regarding the vote yesterday, had you been present, you would have been amazed at the qualifications and passion of many of the candidates, so for the choice to be of a close friend of many members, who was one of the least qualified candidates and who referenced his free time as a relevant qualification, and who also sits on the township planning board and has no children in the schools just made no sense (there were teachers, professors, attorneys, an accountant, a West Point grad with an MBA and a Law degree, and all with children in the schools)...and I can tell you for a fact that I am privy to information you are not and that there were some Board members who were very unhappy about it and who have expressed to me personally that they look forward to me bringing a fresh perspective and participating in executive sessions with them :) I have also heard from administrators and teachers since last night who share my opinion on what happened and are desperate for change. I sincerely thank you for your perspective though, I wish everyone paid attention and voiced their concerns as you have, really.
Brutus Cato December 13, 2013 at 08:12 AM
Thank you for that, Mr. Gagliardi. BTW, @Jane Smith, you could have at least been circumspect enough to spell the man's name correctly if you were going to criticize him. So...now that you have spoken from a position of ignorance, Jane Smith, do you care to comment again now that Mr. Gagliardi has given you the facts that you seemed unable to ascertain for yourself?
stephaniebelcher December 13, 2013 at 01:42 PM
This is scary. A man just as less qualified to make decisions on behalf of students and parents like the rest of the board. Super Bilodeau is a puppet. He has his decisions already made. He may take an interest in what parents have to say, but doesn't take any of it into consideration. Choosing Mr. Pearce was just political friends helping out political friends. I am sure he is a nice man, but he has too many other ties in this township that makes him a conflict of interest then a someone who can make decision based on the needs of the everyday operations of a school district. It doesn't surprise me that he was chosen and it is "same as usual political games" being played in this township. This board has failed the parents and students by making decisions based on personal and political needs. It's mind blowing the amount of money our school taxes are, but it seems there is barely any money left to do the one thing a school is supposed to do and that is teach our children. There are too many people in business suits with their hands in the pot, and the board just added another one. Shameful, every single one of them. Mr. Gagliardi seems like the ray of sunshine amongst the swarming vultures, but how long will it be before the rest of the board disregards him, if they haven't already. It is time for a parent revolt. When was the last time a major news media has been called? Fox News is itching for stories like this.
Jane smith December 14, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Mr gagliardi I appreciate your comments did I spell it right mr Cato because my concerns were lost to you that attack mode should leave and more people would get involved I only voiced my concerns. Godspeed mr gagliardi
Brutus Cato December 14, 2013 at 09:40 PM
Please post the interpretation of your post, @Jane smith. It's extremely difficult to follow your line of reasoning when I can't even understand what you are writing.


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