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Letter: Westbury School Superintendent Being Pushed Out by Board?

Perhaps a more reasonable question to ask is whether or not the Westbury School Board is amenable to extending the contract of the superintendent, which is about to expire. There may be doubts about this question being answered in the affirmative, and may be the reason why Clark-Snead is apparently considering an offer(s) being made to her by a prominent school district that is in need of her service. I know this to be so because I was one of a cross section of community residents that members of the board of that district interviewed as part of their background checking process. The members of this school board are apparently impressed with Clark-Snead’s remarkable résumé just as we in Westbury were impressed when she was awarded the job 10 years ago after a long, exhaustive national search. As a member of that interview panel, I was delighted to learn that Clark-Snead was a disciple of the Comer Process, a concept that was introduced to the district by former Superintendent Dr. Robert Pinckney, who resigned from the position at the end of August 1999. But that was not all; Clark-Snead’s credentials and performance blew away the competition, and left an indelible imprint in the minds of members of the interview panel.

Consider the following: traveled extensively representing the U.S. Department of Education in Coventry, England and Moscow, Russia, to examine the curriculum of the United Kingdom and Russia and served as a site evaluator for the National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Program, served as deputy superintendent for the District of Columbia Public Schools, director for The College Board Upward Bound Program, and as an adjunct professor at George Washington University Educational Leadership Department.

Clark-Snead’s accomplishment and earned accolades continue to expand since coming to Westbury. She has served as treasurer and vice president and president of Nassau County Council of School Superintendents, chairperson for the American Association of School Administrators Women’s Committee, and chaired the School Equity and Achievement Committee for the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents. She is currently a member of the New York State Commissioner’s Advisory Council, the National Superintendent’s Roundtable, and sits on the board of directors for the National Center for Education Research and Technology. Her many awards include Outstanding Principal Award for Educational Leadership, The United States Department of Education School of Excellence Award, Educator of the Year Award from Phi Delta Kappa International of Hofstra University, Superintendent’s Award from the National Council of Negro Women and Outstanding Community Leader Award from North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center.

But Dr. Clark-Snead’s tenure in Westbury has not been all smooth sailing as her vocal detractors, including some school board members, have charged that she has not done enough to keep costs down, raise test scores and does not deserve the over $200,000 per year that the district pays her. Notwithstanding the fact that she has presided over the awarding of two of the district’s schools being granted the distinction of National Schools of Excellence, none of the district’s six schools are on the state’s endangered list of “failing schools”, and the recipient of Standard and Poor’s rating as one of 47 outperforming school districts in New York State.

1n 2006 Clark-Snead’s other credits include perusing and achieving the innovative and unique Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB); the $28 million interest free bond that was approved by the public in 2003 and allowed for the much needed renovations and repair projects in the district; the Cradle of Aviation project, the Marine Science Project that allow students to peruse interests in the field of marine biology and aeronautics and the introduction of an all day kindergarten program in the district.

The critical question one might be inclined to ask after reading the above is why would anyone be so eager to get rid of someone with such stellar accomplishment? And why would other districts be so willing to invest in such a person? Could it be that either side, the board and the other parties know something that the general public here in Westbury does not know? It seems to me that since the public voted for board members to act on its behalf, it is therefore quite in order to ask for an explanation from the board as to why the impending action will be in the best interest of the community, especially since it is not clear in the current economic climate, if it is feasible to get someone to do the job cheaper.

I’m reminded of the impasse involving former schools superintendent Robert Pinckney, and when members of the public thought that he was being railroaded. Led by veteran community activist Dianne Van Nooten, and the late Dr. Rudolph Clark, community members rallied under the banner of the newly formed Westbury Task Force, and raised money in order to travel to Albany to ensure that Dr. Pinckney got a fair shake. Such activism may no longer exist in our community, but I think people’s desire and interest in fair play still does.