Written by Anton News Staff Tuesday, 13 July 2010 00:00
Last week, The Westbury Times ran an article on the front page that contained statements from the Westbury School Board in place at that time, when Karin Campbell was serving as its president, announcing the appointment of Dr. Valerie Henning-Piedmonte to the position of Superintendent of Schools for the Westbury School District. According to a letter received by The Westbury Times on July 9 from the law firm Lexow, Berbit & Associates, P.C., representing Clarkstown Central School District in New York, the employer, the letter states, of Dr. Henning-Piedmonte, Dr. Henning-Piedmonte had not accepted the position of superintendent of the Westbury School District. The Westbury Times is retracting the information regarding Dr. Henning-Piedmonte in last week’s article. (See complete “Retraction” accompanying this story.) The present Westbury School Board, the composition of which has been altered due to the recent election, with Dr. Pless M. Dickerson now serving as its president, states that Dr. Constance Clark-Snead will remain Superintendent of the Westbury School District.
Dr. Constance Clark-Snead, who in a statement issued to The Westbury Times in April, said that she had accepted a position in New Jersey as the Superintendent of the Teaneck School District, has now submitted her resignation to that school district, according to the statement dated July 2 by the Teaneck Board of Education that has been posted on that district’s website. The statement reads, “The Board of Education regrets to inform the community that Dr. Constance Clark-Snead has submitted her resignation as Superintendent of Schools. The notification from Dr. Clark-Snead was received last evening.”
Also in the above referenced statement from Dr. Clark-Snead given to The Westbury Times back in April, she said that headhunter recruiters had sought her out for positions not only within New York State but also nationally since she began her tenure in Westbury a decade ago. “My position had always been ‘I am committed to Westbury’ but this time, because of the difference of philosophy with some of the members of the Westbury Board of Education, I felt compelled to pursue the opportunity being presented to me by the Teaneck School District,” Dr. Clark-Snead stated in April.
The composition of the Westbury Board of Education has now changed.
Three newly elected members of the Westbury Board of Education were ceremoniously sworn into office during the well-attended school board meeting on July 7. The new trustees, Rodney A. Caines, Siela A. Bynoe, and Leslie F. Davis, were elected by the public during the regular, at-large election on May 18. This ceremonial inauguration followed an official swearing-in of the three new board members on the morning of Tuesday, July 6. The other school board trustees presently serving are Dr. Pless M. Dickerson, Stanton Brown, Rocco N. Lanzilotta and Karin Campbell.
At the July 7 Westbury School Board Reorganization and Planning meeting held at Westbury High School, the newly formed board of education “affirmed” Dr. Clark-Snead as Superintendent. The board released the following statement: “The Board of Education acted yesterday to make clear its commitment to Dr. Clark-Snead and to the terms of the valid contract the Board has with the Superintendent. Prior Board action was done in violation of the contract with the superintendent. This Board seeks to adhere to all its commitments, including that to Dr. Clark-Snead not only because it is bound to but because it is confident in her ongoing abilities to lead us to increased student achievement.” The board states they give Dr. Clarke-Snead their vote of confidence, “enabling her to continue her outstanding work in improving student achievement.”
Following the swearing-in ceremony on July 7, the Board of Education elected Trustee Dr. Pless M. Dickerson as President and Trustee Rodney Caines as Vice-President. Also during the meeting, the Board of Education appointed Jaspan Schlesinger LLP, which has long served as general counsel to the District, to continue in that role.
The Westbury Times received a letter on the Westbury School District’s letterhead to “Residents and Taxpayers of the Westbury School District” dated July 6 and signed by Karin B. Campbell, President, Westbury Board of Education. (The following evening, Dr. Pless M. Dickerson was elected president of the board.) Within this July 6 letter Campbell states, “On March 25, 2010, it was announced by the Teaneck Public Schools and the Bergen Record that Dr. Clark-Snead had been appointed as the Superintendent in Teaneck, NJ with a three year contract beginning July 1. Yet still, Dr. Clark-Snead had not officially notified the Westbury Board of Education of her intentions to resign from Westbury.” Campbell’s letter also states, “In early March, the Westbury Board of Education was advised by counsel that we could not begin the search for a new superintendent until we received official notice from Dr. Clark-Snead of her resignation.”
Campbell goes on to state in her letter, “Finally, on June 1, more than eight months later, the Westbury Board of Education received an official letter of resignation from Dr. Clark-Snead stating that she will be leaving on July 2…” Campbell also writes, “On June 28, the Westbury Board of Education received another official notice from Dr. Clark-Snead that she was resigning effective July 2.”
Campbell writes, “In an Emergency Meeting on June 30, 2010, under the direct advice of legal counsel, the Westbury Board of Education took appropriate and swift action in order to protect the School District.” Campbell writes that two resolutions passed at that meeting were, one, to appoint Dr. Henning-Piedmonte as superintendent (a position which, as is stated in the beginning of this article, according to General Counsel for the Clarkson School District, Dr. Henning-Piedmonte had never accepted. Lexow, Berbit & Associates also stated in its letter to The Westbury Times, “Indeed, quite surprised by the sudden interest in her [Henning-Piedmonte] after being turned down for an assistant superintendent opening last year, she broke off any further involvement in the process even before meeting with the full Board of Education. Thus, she advised that she was not interested in proceeding further before the candidate selection process had matured from her perspective.”). And, two, “Mary Lagnado, Assistant Superintendent of Business & Management Services, was appointed as Interim Superintendent so that the District would be able to continue to provide uninterrupted educational services until the new Superintendent was in place.” Campbell also writes, “As a result of the emergency meeting, on July 1, the Westbury Board of Education received yet a fourth letter from Dr. Clark-Snead that she now was rescinding her letter of resignation, and had apparently now changed her mind.” In her July 6 letter, Campbell states that the legality of what has transpired is under question.
At the school board meeting on July 7, the above-mentioned resolutions were nullified.
The Westbury Board of Education’s July Planning and Action Meeting has been rescheduled to Thursday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the High School Little Theatre. Please note, there will be no meeting on July 14 or July 15. All members of the public are welcome to attend the Board Meeting on July 22.
In addition, at the July 7 meeting, the Board honored Lawrence Zaino, Sr. who recently retired as Trustee at the age of 91, and who dutifully served as a Board of Education member for nine elected terms. In honor of Mr. Zaino, the Board passed a resolution renaming the district administration building “The Lawrence F. ‘Chip’ Zaino, Sr. Administration Building.” State Assemblyman Charles Lavine and Nassau County Legislator Robert Troiano presented Mr. Zaino with proclamations in recognition of his dedicated service. Mr. Troiano also presented proclamations to Mr. Zaino from various other local elected officials, including United States Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano.