By Nicole M. Wells
At a special meeting of the Sussex County Community College Board of Trustees Aug. 20, the board voted 7-2 to censure Jerry Scanlan and to remove him from his position as board vice chair, effective immediately.
Board Chair William Curcio said that censuring could mean a number of things and that he did not want to speculate as to the board’s future course of action.
Curcio also said that the board intends to write a letter to the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders to advise that body to consider removing Scanlan from the board.
Because the Sussex County freeholders appointed Scanlan to his seat, they are the only ones who can remove him from the board.
Dr. Paul Crowley and Rachel Geraci cast the two no votes.
Scanlan came under fire by members of the public during the July 23 board meeting for a series of disparaging tweets referencing U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. The four freshman Democratic congresswomen of color have recently been subject to criticism by President Donald Trump.
In addition to his role as vice chair of the board, Scanlan is also the chairman of the Sussex County Republican Committee and the tweets were shared via the county party’s official Twitter account.
In a statement provided by attorney John M. Carbone, Scanlan said that, contrary to the board’s promise of an investigation, none has occurred.
“The Committee has not requested my statement, sought my participation in an investigation, my positions, or my side of the issues,” Scanlan said.
He also said that officials and members of the SCCC community have stated that the college has, “official written and adopted standards and policies” about “social media accounts, postings and conduct,” but that none have been identified.
“While I do not disagree that the Sussex County Community College Board of Trustees has a right and duty to conduct a full and fair investigation, what is being conducted is ‘Cowboy Justice,’” Scanlan said. “Hang ‘em first and try ‘em later.”
Scanlan was absent from the Aug. 20 meeting.
As of Aug. 23, @SussexCountyGOP had 17,100 tweets and 21,500 followers. The account has been set to private, so that only followers can see the tweets.
According to the resolution the board passed, “individuals serving in a position of leadership at public institutions of higher education have a greater duty and responsibility to not only the college but also the administration, staff, students and alumni to treat, write and speak about all individuals with respect and decorum and without evidencing any bigotry.”
The resolution acknowledged that Scanlan had accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to the board and to the community.
“I sought to go further in an attempt to foster healing, reconciliation and repair of the damage for which I accepted responsibility,” Scanlan said. “Offering to sponsor a broad community educational experience and teaching moment, I sought to arrange ... a public presentation and educational session to address the issues of civility and cultural sensitivity.”
According to the board, Scanlan is a director within the Nokia Services Solutions Group focusing on managed services business development in North America.
He has served as a board member for more than seven years and was appointed to the board on Nov. 30, 2011.
“Let me state now that I intend to serve out my term on the Board of Trustees, which ends at the end of October,” Scanlan said. “It is not about what happens to me, but what happens next.”