Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 30 July 2010 00:00
On July 22, about 100 residents attended the Westbury Board of Education’s Planning/Action meeting in the high school’s little theater.
President of the Board of Education Dr. Pless Dickerson and Vice President Rodney Caines offered statements regarding uncertainties about the current board and the direction of the board for the upcoming school year.
“I wish to state, loud and clear, that the board of education as set forth above [earlier Dickerson named himself, Rodney Caines, Siela Bynoe, Leslie Davis, Karin Campbell, Rocco Lanzilotta and Stanton Brown as the current board], is the only legitimate Board of Education and that the board will continue to handle and move forward in the business of educating our children,” Dickerson said.
In response to Karin Campbell’s “alleged illegalities and improprieties” of the current board and “claims that there are those who are seated who are not truly on the board,” Dickerson called Campbell’s statements “incorrect,” and noted that “the status of the Board of Education is beyond question.”
“With the election of these young people, the community has spoken clearly as to their selection. The community is looking for a new energy, a new direction and a new relationship with the board … it is the intention of the board to give you that,” said Dickerson.
Vice President Rodney Caines presented a statement of gratitude for supporting voters, as well as his own clarification of the current board situation.
Caines referred to a July 7 letter from Dr. Tom Rogers, superintendent of Nassau BOCES and the State Education Commissioner’s district representative, to wherein Rogers stated, “…they have all been chosen (vote of the public and qualified) by taking their oaths and filing them with the district clerk and they now constitute the new members of the Board of Education as of yesterday morning when they took their oaths.”
“Unfortunately one of our fellow board members, Karin Campbell, is seeking to preserve the status quo and trying to subvert the will of the people by denying us the seats on the board we were elected to fill,” said Caines.
Campbell, Lanzilotta and Brown were absent from the Planning/Action meeting, but in a July 23 written statement they claim the July 22 meeting was not legal.
Caines directed much of his statement toward a July 6 letter by Campbell, entitled “Letter to Residents,” that stated, “Dr. Dickerson had the three new trustees-elect illegally sworn in to office.” Caines cited Section 10 of the NYS Public Officers Law which states that, “…an individual elected to public office can be sworn in by any of the following: an appellate court judge, the attorney general, a notary public, the presiding officer of the board or the clerk,” and then provided copies of the new trustees-elect’s signatures in the Oath Book “maintained by Mr. Lanzilotta, who countersigned our signatures as evidence that he had administered the oath,” said Caines.
“We can’t wait to roll up our sleeves and get down to business,” Caines added.
When the meeting was opened for public comment, past Westbury PTA Council Vice President and 15-year Westbury resident Chester McGibbon thanked Dickerson and Caines for their clarifications, but also spoke of the ambiguity still lingering about the board.
“Just as you’re about to digest one [statement], there’s another. I don’t want to say you don’t know who to believe, it’s confusing, but the public is torn as to what’s going on and where does it stop?” McGibbon said.
“This community is being divided … we’re one district, what would stop the commissioner from saying ‘these are the facts’ and cease and desist, and bring some clarity once and for all to the community,” he added.
In response, Dickerson stated: “I can’t speak for the commissioner, we too would like to hear from the commissioner, but there are things we are in the process of working on that might help expedite this [process].”
“We are looking to make certain we are doing what is correct and what is legal. Yes, it is confusing, but the statements in the law book are quite clear,” Dickerson said.