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Stonington school board chooses new chairman after resignations

Stonington — The Board of Education on Thursday night chose member Farouk Rajab as its interim board chairman.

The board needed to elect a temporary chairman after former board Chairwoman Alexa Garvey and member Candace Anderson, the board's treasurer, resigned Wednesday morning.

Anderson cited her cancer treatments and the "divisive and toxic nature of the board" for stepping down while Garvey said she no longer has "the time to meet the commitment and the demands of being a member of this board."

After their vote Thursday, board members praised Garvey and Anderson for their service to the board and dedication to students and the school system. The board on Thursday also chose Alisa Morrison as its interim secretary.

"Thank you for putting your trust in me and we'll move forward together," Rajab told the board.

The board will appoint the two new board members at a future meeting but disagreed Thursday about the process to do that.

Rajab also announced that the last he heard, attorney Christine Chinni is expected to present her completed investigation into how school officials handled the sexual harassment complaints against former high school teacher Timothy Chokas by the end of next week. Rajab said that, as soon as the report is received, it will become a public document.

Superintendent of Schools Van Riley told the board that when the reopening task force meets next Wednesday, he will have options and costs for reopening school facilities, which have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The school board then will meet the week of July 20 to approve a plan, which it needs to submit to the state by July 24. Riley said there will definitely be distance learning options for students who need to stay home.

"We will have an option for every family," Rajab said.

Questions and concerns can be sent to reopeningtaskforce@stoningtonschools.org.

Riley and the board also agreed to meet in the near future to discuss the format and process of his upcoming annual evaluation, which his contract states has to be mutually agreed upon.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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