It was all but routine at the Voorhees board of education meeting on Jan. 3.
Shortly after newly elected member Naveen Khan was sworn in, she sat amongst the other board members listening to allegations that she apparently “liked” since-deleted Facebook posts from her husband that described Israel as a “terrorist nation” for its war against Hamas in Gaza.
Meanwhile, the meeting started off with swearing in the new board members besides Khan, Jennifer Branch-Stewart and Richard Rosen. The board also nominated members who will take on the roles of president and vice president.
The board then opened the floor to the public for questions or agenda comments. Resident Scott Borsky – a familiar face in Voorhees – is known for his commitment to community involvement and interest in education. He is a hospital chaplain at Virtua in Voorhees and a chaplain for township police, among other roles.
Borsky opened his comments by referencing the first verse of Psalm 133: “How good and pleasant it is when people live together in unity.” He then stated that he felt unity on the board would be lacking if Khan stayed on and addressed her directly.
“You would have never been elected because of your feelings against Jewish people,” he remarked.
When news of the October posts by Kahn’s husband recently became public, Mayor Michael Mignogna offered his own Facebook message to say he would no longer support her and that he stands in solidarity with Israel and the local Jewish community. Community members have also made their feelings about Kahn and her husband in posts on the township’s Facebook page.
Before going into the meeting, Khan hoped to start the year off as the first female, Muslim to ever hold a spot on the board and looked forward to making a positive impact within the school systems. Shortly after hearing some residents speak, Khan made a tough decision.
“I think people are right, I think it’s best I should resign,” Khan stated. She denied liking posts that were made by her husband while noting that she believes she and her family are misunderstood.
“There have been a lot of things said about me tonight, much of it untrue, I guess just because I am married to John (Dzivak),” Khan said at the board meeting. “We have had the most horrific three months yet.” Khan expressed that her family are being threatened with texts, windows smashed at their home and she fears for the safety of her child.
“I am not a public person, just a regular person,” she added. In a recent interview, Khan states that she is connected with the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey. She also expresses she has Jewish friends. Her kids even know the dreidel song, and are apart of the Jewish community.
Khan’s plan was not to resign but she expressed how she did not feel like her fellow board members defended her or stopped local residents from “attacking” her during the comment portion of the meeting.
“Is that a formal resignation?” asked by board solicitor. Khan replied yes. In the next 60 days, the board will have to find someone to fill Khan’s spot.