‘Bare bottom’ — NJ school board member out after bathroom trip with camera on
A member of the Hackensack school board has quit after accidentally keeping her camera on during a bathroom break while Monday night’s meeting was held on Zoom.
Trustee Frances Cogelja — who has previously caught attention for her opposition to New Jersey's mandatory curriculum about LGBTQ history and an anti-racism board resolution — tendered her immediate resignation from the board in a letter submitted Tuesday, according to a message on the district website. The board has 65 days to fill the position under state law.
The Hackensack Board of Education does not post video of meetings on its website.
Zoom, a popular videoconferencing platform, gives users the option to turn their cameras and microphones off without leaving a meeting. According to TAP into Hackensack coverage of the meeting, Cogelja could be seen in her "square" inside her bathroom. The group For Hackensack's Future on its Facebook page said Cogelja "broadcast her bare bottom" during the meeting.
Upon her return to the meeting, fellow trustee Scott James-Vickery told Cogelja "you need to go. We’re here trying to get work done while you’re sitting on the toilet," according to the Hackensack Daily Voice.
Cogelja in June 2019 resisted calls to step down by Garden State Equality, state Senator Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson after she told the school superintendent an email she found the state's new LGBTQ curriculum law to be "incredibly disturbing and frankly shocking."
In statement that she provided to the Daily Voice at the time, she said she has "no disdain or disgust or any other negative feeling toward people who have a different sexual lifestyle from my own" and that she believes "conversations having to do with sexuality should be had at home between parents and their children."
Cogelja abstained from an otherwise unanimous vote on an anti-racism resolution at the board's June 15 meeting. The resolution supported the development of increased diversity and inclusion during the district's hiring process. The resolution also supported dismantling of systems that do not promote inclusivity in all Hackensack public schools.
She told NorthJersey.com in an email at the time that she had a conflict with one of the entities mentioned in the resolution because of an investigation.