SW Board Now 'Full', Seating Nine
By Dan Hust
LAKE HUNTINGTON October 9, 2007 The new dynamic manifested itself clearly at Sullivan West’s school board meeting Thursday in Lake Huntington.
Once just-elected board members Angela Daley and Mary Scheutzow were sworn in, District Clerk Peg Luty called for nominations for the person who would serve as board president for the rest of the school year.
Anna Niemann nominated Rich Sandler, who had been serving as temporary president since July, when the then-seven-member board couldn’t agree to a permanent leader.
Rose Crotty, however, nominated Shaun Sensiba, and the vote was on.
Votes for Sandler were a given from Niemann and Sandler himself, but board members Ken Cohen, Richard Tegnander, Daley and Scheutzow followed.
Sensiba, of course, voted for himself, along with Crotty and Noel van Swol, and so Sandler was elected to his post 6-3.
The same split happened for vice president, but Sensiba who had been temporarily serving in the role since July and was nominated this time around by van Swol lost to Cohen, who was nominated by Tegnander.
Van Swol, who had enjoyed a board majority last year, found himself even more alone when the next vote arrived.
Reiterating an appeal he had made at the prior board meeting, van Swol pushed for an investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office into the substandard construction at the high school.
And once again, every board member opposed him, including Daley and Scheutzow.
“At this point in the process and at the stage we’re at… that’s a premature resolution,” remarked Niemann. “We need to get further into the process before we ask for that kind of intervention.”
Even Sensiba, normally in agreement with van Swol on such controversial issues, pointed out that the “state doesn’t have the ability to step in” since the SW board approved construction and that the defects, while “terrible, they do not constitute a crime” (criminal activity normally triggers an AG investigation).
“Until we get something specific,” Sensiba continued, “we won’t get the AG to go on a fishing expedition for us.”
Van Swol was not deterred, criticizing the NYS Education Department’s recent inspection of the school where it deemed the facility safe as a “sad joke… like turning the proverbial fox loose in the henhouse.”
He called for an independent investigation, saying, “There is strong enough evidence here of potential criminal activity” and warning that the statute of limitations could thwart legal efforts if the board did not act soon.
“If you don’t act now, when will you act?” he asked.
Tegnander wasn’t impressed.
“The last two meetings, we’ve witnessed grandstanding on the part of Noel van Swol,” he stated, remarking that the school’s investigation is ongoing.
But after van Swol professed offense to Tegnander’s comments, the two seemed to find some common ground when Tegnander suggested an independent investigation when permanent repairs are concluded at the high school “to allay the fears of the public and put the rumors finally to rest.”
Van Swol heartily agreed, also accepting Tegnander’s apology for any offensive remarks.
But the board still voted 8-1 not to put van Swol’s resolution on the agenda, with Sandler only promising that the board could consider the matter at its next meeting on November 1, a few days after a scheduled consultation with the school’s attorney.