The school board voted to keep the two women, who led the Board of Education for the past year, at the helm at the reorganization meeting on Thursday evening.
School board members voted 6-3 to retain Oshin Castillo as president and Nakima Redmon as vice president. The selection of the two women, who won re-election in November, ended weeks of behind the scene machination between two opposing factions.
On the one side was the Castillo faction and on the other the Emanuel Capers team. Capers appeared to have the needed five votes in late December, but lost a pledge in early January. He had been counting on board member Joel Ramirez.
Ramirez had backed a group of candidates that unsuccessfully tried to unseat Castillo, Redmon, and Manny Martinez. After the November elections, he had vowed not to support the incumbent leadership, but changed his position, leaving Capers in the lurch.
Ramirez said he had reservations about supporting Capers because of the pending ethics charges against him.
Capers could count four votes: himself, newly elected members Eddy Olivares, Robinson Rondon, and Jonathan Hodges. He unsuccessfully tried to recruit Kenneth Simmons.
Castillo (pictured) could count just three votes — herself, Redmon, and Martinez – until Simmons and Ramirez clarified their positions.
Capers dropped his bid for the presidency and decided to back Castillo and Redmon.
Capers was joined by Martinez, Ramirez, and Simmons on Thursday night in supporting Castillo and Redmon. Both women also voted for themselves.
Hodges was nominated for the presidency, but did not have the votes.
Hodges, Olivares, and Rondon voted against Castillo and Redmon.
Both Rondon and Olivares campaigned against the current leadership. Both men promised voters to bring change to the school board.
“I regret some of the things I had hoped to see happen in terms of education won’t happen now, but I hope, in the near future, our focus will be clearer. Not to contracts, this that and other, but on the children,” said Hodges, the longest serving member of the school board, who, due to poor health arrived at John F. Kennedy High School in a wheelchair.
The team led by Castillo and Redmon has been accused of putting the interest of the Passaic County Democratic Party ahead of the students. Both women work for the party-controlled Passaic County government.
School board members bade farewell to Vincent Arrington and Jessica Schutees. Both served less than a year. Schutees was appointed in August to fill the vacancy left behind by councilman Flavio Rivera and Arrington was appointed in January to replace ex-board member Christopher Irving.
Arrington received a plaque from superintendent Eileen Shafer and praise from his former colleagues.
“My work is going to continue. It’s not going to stop,” said Arrington. He said he plans to continue to advocate for the city’s students.
“He is really dedicated and I’m happy to have served with him,” said Redmon referring to Arrington. “I know that you will be running again and I wish you the best of luck.”
Arrington received praise from both factions on the school board.
Updated 2:15 p.m.