Police officer Eddy Pichardo was one of five candidates seeking to fill the school board seat vacated by councilman Flavio Rivera this week. He was a shoo-in for the seat, according to insiders. But, then came an interview on Monday night.
“Just tell us a little bit more about yourself,” said school board president Oshin Castillo, starting the nine-minute interview.
Pichardo gave his name. Stated he has been a police officer in Paterson for the past 12 years. He is in his 13th year, he told the board. He wanted to be an advocate for children and keep them off the streets, he said.
“There’s more to life than hanging out in the corner, selling drugs, robbing people, or committing crimes, which majority of our kids are doing now, unfortunately, it saddens me to see,” said Pichardo.
Some school board members were visibly shocked at the statement that “majority” of their students were engaging in criminal activity.
The school district has 28,400 students.
“That’s what sealed his fate,” said a school board member referring to the “majority” comment. Some ignored everything he said after making that statement.
The interview continued. Each school board member asked him a question. The questions were the same for all five candidates. He managed to answer a question about Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC) that caught 3 of 5 candidates by surprise.
Before the interview, insiders had settled on Pichardo. He had the needed votes for the seat. School board members had said, before the meeting, the battle would be between former school board member Corey Teague and Pichardo.
The board interviewed the five candidates and went behind closed-doors to deliberate. Inside, the board debated his comments. Some pointed out, the school district fired a teacher in the past for making similar comments.
The teacher had stated her pupils were future criminals.
Pichardo’s backers could not explain away his comment. They could not back Teague, a firebrand activist, who has attacked some of them in the past.
After 25 minutes, board members emerged from the executive meeting room. One group of school board member nominated Teague and second nominated Jessica Schutte.
Schutte was appointed to the seat. She recognized she had the luck of Napoleon Bonaparte.
“I thought it was a longshot,” said Schutte after she was appointed. She will serve for the next four months.
Pichardo is running for a seat in the November election.
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