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TRENTON -- A Trenton school board member has resigned in part because he says he's disappointed by the bullying and intimidation tactics used by some union leaders and wants to speak out against them. "They need to stop and that's something as a board...

Trenton school board member resigns, cites union bullying

TRENTON -- A Trenton school board member has resigned in part because he says he's disappointed by the bullying and intimidation tactics used by some union leaders and wants to speak out against them. "They need to stop and that's something as a board...

Trenton school board member resigns, cites union bullying

TRENTON -- A Trenton school board member has resigned in part because he says he's disappointed by the bullying and intimidation tactics used by some union leaders and wants to speak out against them.

"They need to stop and that's something as a board member I can't say, but I will be saying it as a member of the public," Guillermo Gomez said Wednesday.

He submitted his resignation a few days before Friday's contentious board meeting that named Nelson Ribon as acting superintendent. It became official on Monday.

Gomez, a real estate agent and president of the Latino Civics Forum, was appointed to the board in September 2014 and says he was proud to represent the Latino community.

"It was a very difficult decision for me to make, but it was time," the 31-year-old said.

He cited wanting to spend more time with his wife and 7-month-old daughter as a major reason, but was also candid about the disrespect he says the board is shown meeting after meeting by Naomi Johnson-Lafleur and Janice Williams, presidents of the teachers' and paraprofessionals' unions.

Gomez says they routinely call for members to step down, shout at them, interrupt the meetings with chants and speak over other people who have the microphone.

"They said they tried to work with the board, but they really don't," he said. "They show up at meetings to disrupt them and that kind of bullying tactics that they're using -- it's a failure of their job which is to represent a very large and important group."

Gomez urged the teachers and other staff to vote in new union leadership.

"We need leaders that bring people together and not divide us and until they're gone, we're not going to be able to have a working relationship between the Trenton Board of Education and them," he said.

Gomez plans to still attend meetings, but says that now he'll be able to speak up more openly.

Johnson-Lafleur said that what Gomez characterized as bullying is nothing more than the unions taking action.

"If he doesn't like the chanting, that's on him," she said. "I don't consider an action to be bullying. His lack of understanding lets him think that we're trying to bully them. No, we're trying to get them to listen."

She criticized the board for making uninformed decisions and showing a lack of understanding about the city's schools and students.

"If he thinks we're going to sit silent while they misuse tax dollars, he's wrong and I'm glad he stepped down," she said. "He needed to step down because we can't afford to have arrogance and ignorance making these type of decisions."

Gomez' departure means there are two vacancies the mayor will have to fill.

"I've really enjoyed working with Guillermo and the unique perspectives that he brought to the board," board president Jason Redd said. "As a Latino leader, I look forward to continue working with him moving forward."

Cristina Rojas may be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @CristinaRojasTT. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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