MONROE – The school district administration is collecting applications from eligible community members interested in filling an unexpired term on the Board of Education.

At the Sept. 4 school board meeting, President Kathy Kolupanowich said the deadline to apply is Sept. 20 at 3 p.m.

As previously reported, the board will hold a special meeting on Sept. 24 to select an applicant to fill the unexpired term of Ken Chiarella, who resigned last month because of health reasons. His term ends Dec. 31.

The board will interview all qualified candidates in public at the Sept. 24 meeting and then deliberate in closed session before returning to the public for a vote.

Kolupanowich said that she is working with the board attorney to develop a process for having candidates interviewed in a public setting “because we’ve never been in this position before where we’ve had to fill a vacancy.”

She added that all trustees would be able to provide input into the process, for example, providing questions that will be asked of candidates.

“Mr. [Steven] Riback and I will be meeting with [board attorney] Mary [Smith] to come up with a fair process and as we do that we will let [the trustees] know,” Kolupanowich said. “We’ll all have input.”

The school board is required by law to fill the vacant seat. If it does not select a candidate, education officials run the risk of having the Middlesex County superintendent selecting a qualified township resident to the seat.

With the general election so close, Trustee Peter Tufano asked if it was possible to bar candidates seeking one of the three, three-year terms up for vote in November from being considered to fill the unexpired term because he felt it “would give other candidates a disadvantage.”

Kolupanowich said that question was asked, but the answer is no because “that would illegal.”

Monroe residents interested in the vacant position should send a letter of interest and resume to Michael Gorski at the board office, 23 Buckelew Ave.

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Christopher Lang is a freelance correspondent for MonroeNow. Previously he was part of The Record-USA Today Network and served as an editor for a decade at NJMG.