By Dan Hust
JEFFERSONVILLE November 6, 2001 For the third time in less than a month, the Sullivan West board of education was split 5-4 at their Thursday meeting in Jeffersonville, this time over whom to name as board president in the wake of Carol Nearings resignation.
Although other media reported that Vice-President Jeff Nober was going to resign as well, Nober instead conducted the vote as acting president and was ultimately elected as president.
Voting for Nober were members Bill Erdman, Carol Nearing, Jerry Triolo, Tim Lanese and Nober himself. Those who voted for the other nominee, Rick Lander, were Lander, Rich Sandler, Donna Sauer-Jones and K.C. Garn.
The vote to a person was exactly like last weeks vote to head into executive session and a vote two weeks prior to that to name Jeffersonville High School Principal Margaret Margie Tenbus the new Lake Huntington high school principal.
Thursdays vote to name Triolo the new vice-president was unanimous.
The board has been plagued with internal animosity since the decision to transfer Tenbus into the new position, which was against Superintendent Michael Johndrow and Assistant Superintendent David Rowleys recommendation. Like the four dissenting board members, they felt Narrowsburg Principal Rod McLaughlin would be better suited for the job.
The decision caused Rowley to search for another job and Nearing to step down as president, saying the bitter division was becoming too personal.
The rift between board members and the administration even caused upwards of 300 residents to attend a late October board meeting in Callicoon and air their myriad and sometimes opposing views on the situation.
Only about 40 people showed up this past Thursday.
After the vote naming him president, Nober said, I just hope the public and press have a little patience with the board at this time. Were going through a difficult time.
He then named his goals for the near future:
1. to bring the nine board members back together;
2. to secure the leadership of the administration; and
3. to form a trust between the two entities.
Its time to move forward and get back on track, he said. I hope thats the [whole] boards opinion.
The board remained silent on the issue, but several members of the public spoke up once again.
Outspoken Sullivan West critic Noel van Swol of Long Eddy actually thanked Nearing for her service on the board and wished Nober and Triolo the best of luck. However, as he did a week before, he took Sauer-Jones to task for what he considered a breach of confidentiality when she spoke to the Democrat about Tenbus fitness, or lack thereof, for the new job.
Van Swol even said he was willing to pay any legal fees to remove Sauer-Jones from office.
Fremont Center resident Bill Klaber disagreed, however.
Donna Sauer-Jones is one of the people most active in the school district. Shes been a terrific board member, he said. [Van Swol] has done nothing but kick the district in the knees. He would like nothing more than to see you all fall on your faces.
No one has to resign, concluded Klaber, saying unhappy residents could take out their frustrations in the voting booth.
Both van Swol and former board member Angela Daley of Narrowsburg asked the board to be more specific about how they went about determining whom to hire (or not to hire) for the new job, but no answers were given that evening.
Capping off the meeting was a request by board members and some of the public to prohibit personal attacks on board members and district employees.
We do need to change our policy on public comment to not let it be open season on everybody, said Lander. Its not doing the students, staff or administration any good.
Triolo agreed, adding that he would like to see board comments put ahead of public comments so that the public can speak on what board members bring up.
Nober said he would discuss a new policy with the schools attorney.