A special meeting of the Westbury School District board of education will be held in the Westbury High School Little Theater on Tuesday, March 21 at 7 p.m.
While no agenda was released, an alert on the school district website stated that it was “anticipated that the Board of Education will adjourn into Executive Session and action may be taken after reconvening in public.”
The meeting comes a few days after a planned action meeting on Thursday, March 16 was deemed “unofficial” due to a lack of quorum.
The unofficial meeting was attended by trustees Pless Dickerson and John Simpkins and board president Robin Bolling, with trustees Pedro Quintanilla, Karin Campbell, Sherley Cadet and Stanton Brown calling the board clerk to say they would be absent.
Campbell said that the absence by the four trustees was not calculated, but many members of the audience and board members in attendance saw it as an intentional move to avoid the public after a contentious planning meeting on March 9, where rumors of members of the board wanting to end Superintendent Dr. Mary Lagnado’s five-year contract a year early spilled into the public arena. Board members were not legally allowed to speak on that issue, however, the repeatedly mentioned “elephant in the room” was the hot topic of the March 16 meeting.
“I don’t think this is an accident,” said Simpkins. “I personally think the idea was to not face the public this evening, with the hope that they would call a special meeting in a few days and it be done privately so the public would not have the chance to weigh in.”
Several speculated at the meeting as to whether the other four trustees would hold a special meeting, where they could have a quorum to vote on any business they deemed appropriate, however, The Westbury Times could not confirm as of March 20 at 5 p.m. who called the meeting.
Resident Larry Kirton voiced his concern that issues about overcrowding, upcoming testing and the budget were being pushed to the side because of board tensions.
“We’re so caught up in some of these other things that a lot of things are falling through the crack,” Kirton said. “I’ve watched the dysfunction of the board, and it’s built up to this point. At the end, this is hurting the kids.”
During a phone call after the March 16 unofficial meeting, Brown said that his main focus was on academic achievement.
“Less than two out of 10 people who graduate Westbury get a Bachelor’s degree. No one wants to talk about that,” Brown said. “All things I do are focused on a handful of key metrics, that enable our community to be a much better one.”
Several community members also spoke on their support for Lagnado, saying that she had kept the district together over the years.
“I’ve seen this young lady stay night after night, holding this district together,” said one resident. “I’d like to know what is the reason we want her out? We should know what this move is all about. She has done so much for the district. We have a superintendent who has been doing her job, please leave her alone.”