20 Aug 2014
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School Board Nixes Proposed Admin Nominee

Board votes 4-3 against hiring superintendent's recommended candidate for position in charge of curriculum.

School Board Nixes Proposed Admin Nominee

Emotions erupted from a crowd of more than 100 at the Glen Cove Board of Education's meeting Monday night as board members prepared to vote on a contract for a new assistant superintendent of curriculum.

The board voted 4-3 against a contract recommended by district superintendent Joseph Laria to hire candidate Stephanie Clagnaz, the current assistant superintendent of the Hempstead Union Free School District, for the position of assistant superintendent of curriculum in Glen Cove.

The position was vacated by Shari Camhi.

Emotions hit a fever pitch when trustee Joel Sunshine, who voted in support of Laria's recommendation with trustees Ida McQuiar and Grady Farnan, explained his decision as being based on expert opinions.

"The procedure we follow requires the counsel of expert over layperson - or else, we follow a slippery slope towards mob rule," he said.

That's when shouts of "How dare you!" and other angry outbursts exploded from the audience.

Sunshine explained that he was elected to vote according to his beliefs and not simply according to what sentiment may be popular at a given moment. 

Outgoing board president Richard Maccarone called for Sunshine's resignation.

"I am sick of your arrogance," Maccarone said in a yell. "How dare you say that about our residents?"

Resident Maureen Papachristou on Patch Friday addressing the issue. The blog also criticized the move to consider a candidate from outside the district.

The board had been pressed with questions from residents regarding Clagnaz's history, which includes four different districts in the past seven years.  Clagnaz was accused of tampering with test scores while at Ross Global Academy in Manhattan in 2008, although Laria pointed out that the allegations were deemed unsubstantiated, and that the circumstances surrounding teachers' accusations in that case were questionable.

The superintendent addressed public opposition to his recommendation prior to the vote.

"I would never, ever, do anything that I think even had a chance of harming students," said Laria. "I told the board that if we don't post the position to outside candidates, you don't know what you can find, and it can become a meritocracy."

He said that a majority of the board had agreed to post the position in order to find "the best possible candidate on a level playing field."

Voting in dissent were trustees Gail Nebdor-Gross, Barrie Dratch, David Huggins and Maccarone.

It was not explained why Clagnaz was being considered for the position. Board members said that specifics were not made public for legal reasons.

Residents at the meeting advocated for consideration of Glen Cove resident and  principal Michael Israel for the position, which is responsible for developing and implementing curriculum and is directly accountable to the district's superintendent.

"Mike Israel has brought to our community national Blue Ribbon bragging rights," said resident Zefy Christopoulos, former editor of the Glen Cove Record Pilot. "The kids at the Landing School score very well on the ELA exams, and he's a local guy. I'd like to say that an administrator can be seen at the supermarket or Fourth of July parade."

The board will meet in executive session to discuss a second candidate, who was not named.

Maccarone said the next vote is expected to take place at a special meeting Friday night. The time will be announced on the district's website 24 hours in advance.

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