A Hackensack School Board member who made national headlines by opposing a LGBTC curriculum has resigned after an embarrassing incident during a Zoom meeting.
Frances Cogelja didn’t realize she’d left her laptop camera on when she took it with her while going to the bathroom during the public comments section of a board meeting Monday night.
Nearly 150 participants, including students, apparently saw Cogelja relieve herself.
No one immediately said anything when she returned from her trip to the toilet.
A short time later, Vice President Scott James-Vickery reportedly told Cogelja: “You need to go. We’re here trying to get work done while you’re sitting on the toilet.”
BOE Pres Lancelot Powell later said that Cogelja couldn’t be removed because she was an elected official.
“We can’t make her resign,” he reportedly said. “None of us can kick off a board member,” he said.
Early Tuesday afternoon, the board announced that the trustees "have received a letter of resignation from Mrs. Frances Cogelja, effective November 24, 2020."
The remaining trustees must fill the vacancy within 65 days -- or by Jan. 29, 2021 -- under state law.
Cogelja made headlines -- and drew widespread condemnation -- last year when she called new state laws that require teaching about LGBTQ history “repugnant.”
"I have every right as a parent to not have my child participate in something that I do not think is suitable as part of a public school curriculum," she said at the time. "I believe conversations having to do with sexuality should be had at home between parents and their children."
This prompted several board members and local officials -- among them, Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco and Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton -- to call for her resignation.
Hundreds of parents turned out for meetings seeking her ouster, and a Change.org petition calling for her to step down gathered more than 1,900 electronic signatures.
The civic group For Hackensack's Future called Cogelja a bigot, posting early Tuesday that she also "has threatened members of the public, who she said she doesn't respect. She abstained on a symbolic vote committing the district to anti-racism. She voted to extend her own term by eight months."
Cogelja couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
ALSO SEE: Homophobic comments posted in a Zoom chat among Dumont High School teachers has parents, students, graduates and other educators fuming -- and district officials investigating.
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