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In Your Opinion: Mr. Potosnak Should NOT Resign As Franklin Township Board Of Education President!

By John P. Felix, Somerset.

Ms. Patricia Stanley, with whom I have a cordial and valued friendship and whose presence on the Board is constructive, is correct in her pronouncement that Mr. Ed Potosnak has the right to free speech; however, I strongly disagree with her that he should resign as Board President because he “hijacked” the FHS graduation ceremony, and was “disrespectful” to students and their families.

It could be argued that Mr. Potosnak’s unscheduled speech (based on the published program of the ceremony) was untimely. Nevertheless, his obvious excited exuberance of the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage, which occurred on the same day of the graduation, is understandable. Importantly, there were several high graduating seniors, and their supportive families, who welcomed the acknowledgement of elected school officials about theirs and others sexuality, as well as the accompanying favorable rulings of the Supreme Court for this cohort.

Like Ms. Stanley, I sat on the dais as Mr. Potosnak delivered his remarks, which was less of a personal narrative and more of a sincere message of perseverance and accomplishments. In addition to providing timely information, he framed his brief and poignant message so that like-minded students can find solace on their special day of academic accomplishments. Unlike Ms. Stanley, I did not find Mr. Potosnak’ s comments “disrespectful” and/or “inappropriate” to students and their families. On the contrary, like the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, which ended legal segregation in public schools, the June 2015 decision of the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage is yet another milestone in ending some form of segregation, if not discrimination. In my opinion, it’s legitimate and duty-bound for elected school and district officials, regardless of personal or political persuasion, to acknowledge these sorts of achievements and use them as teachable moments, particularly to young adults.

Ironically, Ms. Stanley’s view on the importance of having “someone be the public face of the Franklin Township Board of Education who truly puts the students and their families first and not their personal lives or views” is personified in Mr. Potosnak’s relatively short tenure as Board president and officer. Hence, it’s seems futile, if not contradictory, for her to call for his resignation. Happily, it’s reassuring to note the unwavering support of Mrs. Danielson for the Board president; hopefully, other officers will publically display their respective support.

I will categorically and strongly add my support to Mr. Potosnak. His parliamentary expertise displayed at public Board meetings has been exemplary, and as Board president, he has always conducted himself professionally and displayed utmost respect and fairness towards his fellow Board members, the Superintendent and the public audience. Ms. Stanley’s request of Mr. Potosnak to “resign as President of the Franklin Township Board of Education” is unjust, unfair, unnecessary and absolutely unwarranted simply because her thesis for such a demand does not satisfy the criteria needed for his resignation. Furthermore, her arguments outlined for Mr. Potosnak’s “hijacking,” disrespect” and revelation of “intimate life” are not supported by the facts she outlined. If successful, unseating the Board president for the stated reasons will establish the lowest possible set of criteria for future resignation of Board officers.

With the arrival of the district’s new Superintendent, coinciding with a multitude of key interim district-wide positions, not to mention the infancy of a much welcomed “moderately” functional BOE under the capable leadership of Mr. Potosnak and Mrs. LaCorte, the call for a pointless ethics violation-free resignation is an unwanted distraction.

Let’s not continue to introduce/inject politically-laced objections to the educational governance and the educating of our public school students! After all, the mission of the Franklin Township Public Schools of maintaining “an environment that engenders an appreciation of the value of every student in a multi-cultural society” depends on the unified efforts of all stakeholders, including BOE officers.

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