City school board seeks to put quarrels behind it
GLOVERSVILLE – City Board of Education members say they are ready to put old controversies behind them.
The board, at its annual organizational meeting Tuesday, elected Richard Carlson the new board president in a 6-3 vote.
He replaces Pete Semione, who did not seek the board presidency for 2013-14.
Several members of the board last year filed a petition with the state seeking to remove Semione from the board, saying he neglected his duties and threatened some board members.
Semione, who will continue to serve on the school board since his term has not yet expired, made the motion during Tuesday’s meeting to name Carlson to the presidency.
Carlson, who has served on the board for three years, said he believes the strife between some board members and Semione is behind them. He said he is looking forward to bringing the focus to the children of the district.
“It was a difficult year at times; we did get a lot of things accomplished, but there were some bumps along the road there, and I think all of us have learned from that experience and certainly don’t want to repeat it,” Carlson said.
Joining the board for the first time Tuesday was Kevin Kucel, who finisheda second in a six-person race for four open seats in June’s school board election.
Aaron Flynn received the most votes in the June election. Incumbents Robert Curtis and Joseph Andrews also were elected.
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During Tuesday’s meeting, Andrews made a motion to name Curtis to the presidency. The motion was seconded by board member Mike Hauser, but the nomination was defeated.
Curtis then made a motion for Andrews to be elected vice president. The motion was seconded by Hauser.
New board member Kucel followed with a motion to have E. Lynn Brown serve as vice president. She ultimately won in a 6-3 vote.
Carlson said he was honored to be elected president and is eager to focus on issues such as student performance and the graduation rate.
“We have a number of programs and new initiatives that we are undertaking and we’re actively responding to the designation that we got as a ‘focus district,'” Carlson said.
He said three new principals this year will make the transition easier because the new people will be open to fresh ideas. He also said they will have a learning curve.
“I think it works both ways,” Carlson said.
The new principals will be Brian DiPasquale for Park Terrace school, Laura Buzas for Kingsborough School and Mark Batty for Gloversville Middle School.
Brown said although she is the newly elected vice president, she believes she will have the same role she had previously because it is a “board coordinated effort.”
“We have a lot of work to do, and what is most important is that we are as a board developing our district mission, vision and goals and then really moving forward to have those initiated, implemented and hopefully be successful,” Brown said.
Brown said the board will be able to move on because she and Carlson are hard workers.
Several members of the board last year filed a petition with the state seeking to remove Semione. The petition, dated Nov. 21 and filed with the state Education Department, seeks the removal of Semione from his position as a member of the board on the grounds “that he is guilty of willful violations of law and neglect of duty,” the petition states. Board members alleged Semione threatened them.
Semione denied the allegations in the petition, which has not been acted upon by the state.
The petition included five signed affidavits from board members Frank Carangelo, Joseph Andrews, Polly Peck, Michael Hauser and Robert Curtis. Board members E. Lynn Brown, Jean LaPorta and Richard Carlson were not included in the petition.
Peck and Carangelo no longer are board members.
Andrews said he is looking forward to moving past the controversies, but he doesn’t believe the petition is a moot point because Semione no longer is president.
“That is for [the state] to make the decision and not us,” Andrews said.
“It was an ugly incident and I certainly want to put it past me,” he said.
Andrews said he hasn’t heard anything about what the state may decide regarding the petition.
The board Tuesday also administered the oath of office for Superintendent Michael Vanyo.
Elizabeth Fliegel was appointed district clerk for the 2013-14 school year at a compensation of $130.43 per meeting.
Levi Pascher can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.