WESTFIELD — On Tuesday, during a special meeting of the Westfield Board of Education, former board member Kent Diamond was appointed by unanimous decision to fill the remaining two months of Amy Root’s unexpired term.
Mr. Diamond, who served one term on the board, from 2017 to 2020, was selected from an initial pool of 17 applicants. Mr. Diamond lost his reelection bid in 2020 and failed to be elected again in 2021.
“I worked on the board with Kent in the past,” board member Michael Bielen said, noting that Mr. Diamond, who has a background in finance, “greatly assisted [the board] in forming [the district’s] budgets” during that time.
“We only have two meetings before the election [in April], so we really needed someone who would be able to hit the ground running. He checks all of the boxes for what we need to accomplish in the interim,” Mr. Bielen continued.
Board member Leila Morrelli said that while she agreed that Mr. Diamond was the right choice to fill the unexpired remainder of Ms. Root’s term given his past experience as a member of the board, she encouraged each of the other 16 applicants to consider running for a full term in April.
“Thank you to all the candidates who came out today. Your perspective, your insight and your interest is all valued,” Ms. Morrelli said.
Any candidate interested in running for election to the board in April will need to file the requisite documentation with the Union County Board of Elections by Monday, March 6.
Resident Kyle George, the only member of the public to speak at Tuesday night’s meeting, asked board members whether they (and, by proxy, Mr. Kent) would consider hiring a private investigator to look into a recent incident involving a teacher who was arrested on drug-related charges while working at Roosevelt Intermediate School.
The teacher, Frank Thompson, allegedly suffered an overdose in front of his middle school students in November. He has been charged with possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (Fentanyl), a crime of the third degree; possession of drug paraphernalia and endangering the welfare of children.
“This issue does not just go away with the arrest of the teacher,” Mr. George said, citing a school policy that requires all staff members to report suspected drug use by other personnel to the administration. “The district must fully investigate the full timeline of events that culminated in his arrest on school property. I’d like to know if the nominee tonight would vote to hold the district accountable to its own policies.”