Zoom nightmare come true: New Jersey school board member resigns after streaming bathroom break during meeting

Terrence T. McDonald and Isaiah McCall, NorthJersey.com
·2 min read

WOODLAND PARK, N.J. – Here's a reminder of why you should stop taking Zoom into the bathroom.

A New Jersey school board member accidentally broadcast her bathroom break during a board meeting.

Frances Cogelja, a Hackensack school board member, resigned Tuesday after the broadcast, NorthJersey.com, part of the USA TODAY Network, reported.

The Zoom mishap happened during Monday’s Board of Education meeting. By Tuesday afternoon, the school district’s website had posted an announcement that Cogelja had resigned.

Cogelja has come under fire for her criticism of LGBT curriculum and for her initial refusal to approve an anti-racism board resolution.

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"It was time to move on," board President Lancelot Powell said. "We had a long history of issues [with Cogelja], and we here at Hackensack want to do what's best for the community and our kids. After last night, all I can say is we wish her the best."

Cogelja did not respond to a request for comment. She was elected in 2018, and her term would have expiried next year.

Virtual meetings have caused some struggles for public meetings since the coronavirus outbreak led to shutdowns in March, though the problems are largely audio glitches or issues with the public calling in to comment.

Cogelja made statewide news in 2019 when emails showed she described herself as “disgusted and appalled” by a state mandate requiring LGBT curriculum in schools.

The emails, in which she told a school official that an “alternate lifestyle narrative is being shoved [down] our children's throats,” produced an outcry in the city and beyond. Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey issued a statement criticizing her.

She found herself in hot water again in June as the nation was gripped by racial unrest after the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police officers.

Board members drafted a resolution that committed school officials to anti-racism and cultural proficiency in the 5,700-student district, but when the time came for a vote, Cogelja abstained.

The board held a special meeting the next week to vote on the resolution again, and this time, Cogelja voted yes and said an unspecified personal conflict was behind her abstention. By then, even some of her former supporters on the board said she was too divisive. Scott James-Vickery criticized her for her “very narrow worldview.”

The board has until Jan. 29 to appoint Cogelja's replacement.

Contributing: Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY

Terrence T. McDonald is a reporter for NorthJersey.com.

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: New Jersey official resigns after Zoom bathroom broadcast