Kelly Ann Foley, who topped the School Committee race during Braintree's , has yet to be sworn in as a member and may refuse her seat, potentially making way for Joe Zarrella to regain a position he lost by less than 100 votes.
Following Foley's absence at the and the first School Committee meeting of the year on Jan. 9, Joseph Powers received a message from her email address stating that she would not be taking office. That statement, however, was not sufficient confirmation of Foley's intent for the town and school system, and Powers sent Foley a certified letter on Friday, Jan. 13 requesting a note and signature in original ink.
If Foley is not sworn-in or has not officially refused her seat by 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 27, Powers said he will invoke both Massachusetts General Law and the Braintree Charter, directing him to verify whether Zarrella (who received the largest number of votes without being elected) remains eligible for the post and then, if so, swearing him in at the committee's Jan. 30 meeting.
Foley could not be reached for comment. She did not respond to emails, and phone calls went directly to a full voice mail box at her law office, which has recently appeared vacant. As of Tuesday morning, Jan. 17, town officials had yet to hear from Foley about her intent to refuse the position beyond the email from the Gmail account attached to her business.
"It was a surprise," Zarrella said in an interview on Friday. He added that he would be willing to serve if Foley ends up not taking her seat. "I'm just grateful to have a second chance."
If Zarrella were appointed at the end of the month, he would serve until the next town election in 2013. He was originally appointed to the School Committee after the 2009 election when he placed fourth but member Sean Powers left the committee to take his newly-elected position as councilor-at-large.
The current situation and how it may play out, Joe Powers said, is "extremely rare." In his nearly 25 years of experience in Braintree's government, he has not seen someone fail to be sworn in for their elected post and refuse the seat.
Both School Committee Chair Shannon Hume and Superintendent Dr. Peter Kurzberg said on Friday that the shake-up will not affect the work of the committee, which is poised to begin going over a school budget proposal for fiscal year 2013.
Dr. Kurzberg said that the system is set up to deal with occasional, unexpected openings on the committee, as with any local elected body. "Should there be a vacancy, we'll try to get it filled as soon as possible," he said.
Hume said she would be glad to have Zarrella back as a member and also expressed disappointment that Foley may not fulfill her role. "She worked hard and she certainly earned it," Hume said.