During a meeting of trustees for Hackensack, New Jersey’s Board of Education, Frances Cogelja dropped her pants and sat on the toilet while 150 attendees watched her do her business on Zoom. Apparently, Cogelja, a trustee, failed to realize that her camera was still recording her every move as she sat on her toilet in front of dozens of colleagues and members of the community.
The incident has left Frances Cogelja embarrassed and ashamed. Now, she has tendered her resignation from the Hackensack Board of Education after she relieved herself on camera in front of students, parents, and education colleagues.
The coronavirus pandemic has not been easy on anyone. People have been forced to adapt to challenging circumstances, including learning how to attend meetings over the internet. Prior to the pandemic, few people had much experience with Zoom and other video conferencing software programs. And Cogelja’s failure to realize she was using the bathroom on a camera can serve as a reminder for all of us to be careful while using Zoom and other similar platforms.
Attendees at the New Jersey school board meeting were stunned to see Cogelja using the bathroom on camera. However, her screen was not recorded because she was one of many participants. However, one keen observer saw her squatting on the toilet and snapped a picture only to share it online and shame Cogelja for her innocent mistake.
No one initially confronted Cogelja or told her about her on-camera mistake. However, board’s vice president, Scott James-Vickery, later tells her: “You need to go. We’re here trying to get work done while you’re sitting on the toilet.”
During the meeting, Cogelja tried to get the board to push back the election from April to November and give her seven more months in power. Her motion was denied.
Last year, Cogelja made headlines when she said LGBTQ history lessons were “repugnant” and that she was “disgusted and appalled” that such teachers would be asked to teach students about the movement.
“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,” Cogelja said at the time. “I believe conversations having to do with sexuality should be had at home between parents and their children.”
People called the school board and demanded her immediate resignation. She refused to step down; however, she did issue an apology for her callous criticism of the new curriculum.
This was heavily criticized by members of the community who found her outspoken attitude offensive. She also blasted her community by failing to vote for a measure for schools to provide anti-racist training and cultural proficiencies in Hackensack’s public schools.
Despite these previous affronts to her community, getting caught on the toilet was what did her in. Now, Frances Cogelja is out of a job after she appeared on camera while squatting on the toilet.
Because Cogelja’s resignation went into effect immediately, the trustees on the school board have until the end of January to fill her new vacancy.
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