School Board Nixes Proposed Admin Nominee

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

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.

Zefy Christopoulos June 20, 2012 at 03:23 AM
I have been misquoted heavily in this story. It is important for your readers to know exactly what I said. I certainly would never speak the way the quote is written. Here is what I said...I had prepared my words prior to the meeting to ensure I didn't forget any important points. "I have been actively involved with the education of our students for more than two decades. The vast majority of candidates running for a seat on the Glen Cove Board of Education have introduced themselves to voters while giving one of their qualifications as being 'I was born and raised in Glen Cove, I attended Glen Cove schools and now I own a home in Glen Cove.' Why, then, isn't this a qualification, a Doctorate degree and rendering an impeccable 13 years of educational service to our school district good enough for this board of education to promote from within...to promote an integral member of the Glen Cove schools and our community at large to the position of assistant to the superintendent for curriculum? It's obvious to me, as it should be to each of you, that the person I am referring to knows quite a few things about leadership and curriculum, harnessing the two and inspiring teachers and students to achieve their academic best. His students have consistently scored a perfect 4 in the ELA exams during his tenure and, after an excruciatingly long drought, he and his staff brought to our children and to our community National Blue Ribbon bragging rights."
Zefy Christopoulos June 20, 2012 at 03:30 AM
(Continuing) "What a great achievement on top of so many others including the Barrel Burn of Prejudice and his creative approach to the district's PARP program which motivates children to read. And he never hesitates to share the spotlight. It is imperative that we learn from our school district's past. The revolving door at Thayer House had a former assitant superintendent of curriculum come through who created, undid, and recreated the curriculum for grades 1 through 5 during her short tenure some 12 years ago. With her departure it was discovered that taxpayers footed the bill for not much else but her failed curriculum endeavors. In our recent past, the board has hired an elementary school principal about whom there were serious concerns. Once he was on the job and those concerns were validated he was asked to resign and was given a letter of recommendation. What happened in the meantime? We lost several uniquely qualified educators who saw that the Glen Cove school district doesn't reward good work with a promotion from within. By the way, they are working and tenured in other school districts. There are other instances but time is short tonight and the list is much too long. Consider the priceless value to our children and community of an administrator who has earned the requisite degree, who has a spotless 13-year track record and who, yes, can be seen at the ball fields, at the supermarket, at the Fourth of July Bike Parade, at the Spring egg hunt....
Zefy Christopoulos June 20, 2012 at 03:34 AM
(continuing) and at so many other activities. I ask that this school board make good on a promise each of them made as candidates. That they will listen to the community and be sensitive to its needs. The community is asking for Dr. Michael Israel....have you heard them? Will you listen to them?" I have included my full statement because I feel the reporter did me a disservice by not accurately quoting me. And while I am at it, Mr. Joel Sunshine owes this community an apology for calling 100 of his neighbors a mob. But then again, we will remember his comment and the vote rendered by Mrs. McQuair and Mr. Farnan when they are up for re-election to the board. "What you say will cause you dismay in May!"
cc June 20, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Zefy, Thank you! It is about time someone has set the record straight.
maria venuto June 20, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Ochlocracy (Greek: ὀχλοκρατία, okhlokratía; Latin: ochlocratia) or mob rule is government by mob or a mass of people, or the intimidation of legitimate authorities. As a pejorative for majoritarianism, it is akin to the Latin phrase mobile vulgus meaning "the fickle crowd", from which the English term "mob" was originally derived in the 1680s.
Mike Bruschini June 20, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Thank you for adding and clarifying, Zefy. Your input is well-taken, given your experience covering the school board for years and as a candidate.
Mike Bruschini June 20, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Yes, Maria. While I can't speak for Mr. Sunshine, it did not sound like he called Monday's attendees a "mob". Instead, it sounded like he was referring to "mob rule", what he alluded would be a transfer of board influence from the "expert" to the "layperson".
paul June 20, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Michael I think you are incorrect. Mr Sunshine did call the crowd a mob. You are interpreting his words by saying he was referring to something. An attorney (Mr Sunshine) is trained to choose there words with care. His words should be taken at face value. He called the attendees the "Mob". The attendees though passionate in there opposition to Dr laria's choice for the position were very respectifull and listened fairly quietly (for such a large crowd) when Dr. Laria or a board member spoke. Mr Sunshine's words,demeanor,voice inflection was childish, immature, and shocking coming from an elected public official.
paul June 20, 2012 at 03:12 PM
I hope the crowd and there many friends remember Mr Sushine's childish behavior the next time he is up for reelection for that was inexcusable. He should not be a representitive for our children. As for Mrs. McQuair and Mr. Farnan having a different opinion on one issue happens. We the voters need to look at their full record when they come up for reelection and make an informed decision at that time.
Tom Terrific June 20, 2012 at 11:37 PM
The individual that abides, or promises to abide, by the new tax cap law will always get my vote. This other stuff is just histrionics.
Warren Haynes June 21, 2012 at 12:59 AM
So if the board caves in and selects Dr. Israel and he fails at the position, are we going to blame the board, Dr. Laria or the friends of Dr. Israel? Since it was announced at Monday's meeting that a public meeting will be held this Friday, does anyone have the details yet?
No Sunshine June 21, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Perhaps, NIXE Sunshine! - Paul, you are correct the crowd and their many friends should remember Mr. Sunshine’s behavior etc. when he is next up for reelection. Yes, the voters need to look at their full record, which should include character, fitness and credibility for the representation of our children. Public records reveals that Mr. Sunshine and his firm have been sued several times and have an unpaid judgment against them for not performing legal work it was paid to perform. The Nassau County Bar association and the grievance committee also have complaints filed with them requesting his disbarment. These are things that should be looked at.
Zefy Christopoulos June 21, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Meeting is Friday June 22 at 8:30 AM in Thayer House.
Gene June 21, 2012 at 01:40 PM
As a taxpayer I have the following questions: 1) Is the position mandatory? 2) Can the responsibility be picked up by someone else currently employed and having available time? 3) How much will the district save by this hire and the position vacated at Landing? 4) Can the job be done by someone on a part time basis who has experience? 5) Is anyone thinking outside the box or is this a status quo action?
Tri Grella June 22, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Ditto couldn't have said it better myself!! Thank you Zefy!!


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