Editor's Note: The following is a copy of a written statement and questions written by Malverne Board of Education Trustee Gina Genti. Since Genti was barred from reading this at the Dec. 11 school board meeting, she has provided the transcript to Patch for publication.
I am making this statement and raising these questions as a resident of the MUFSD and in exercising my constitutionally protected rights of free speech and expression.
- Board President last month when I questioned legal fees and services provided in the past by Ingerman Smith, a law firm appointed again last month to investigate staff complaints against me, you responded by saying “we don’t discuss litigation in public ever”. Is this district in litigation with any person as a result of that investigation and if so, in what court or forum?
- In a recent Patch article the Board President stated that the BoE had interviewed several firms before deciding to hire a legal firm to investigate complaints made against me. Can you tell us when and where that BoE meeting was held and how it was advertised or noticed? How many and who attended? What was the agenda and what, if any, action was taken?
- We were recently advised by BoE Counsel that an RFP is not required for professional services in the hiring of legal counsel? Can you tell me what information that advice was based on? Is that same advice in compliance with our own District Policy 5410.
- Are you familiar with Policy #5410?
- Are you familiar or do you remember the results of the NYS Comptrollers Audit where Malverne was admonished for not following our own purchasing policy for procurement of professional services?
- Is the contracting of the law firm appointed last month in compliance with the MUFSD Purchasing Policy # 5410?
- Are you aware that our policy states 3/5 of the board must approve a contract? By what authority has a duly elected & sitting Board Trustee been denied her right to vote on an item before the Board?
- Are you aware that our own policy is written to assure that the prudent and economical use of public monies is in the best interest of the taxpayers?
- Are you aware that our policy dictates, and I quote, that services be provided in a way that guards against favoritism, improvidence, fraud, corruption and extravagance
- Are you aware that your own policy mandates written justification for any contract awarded to other than the lowest bidder with reasons stating why?
- Between July 2011 and June 2012 this BoE expended approx. $40,000 of taxpayer dollars to fund an investigation to explore the potential removal of a board member, that member being me. What conclusion, if any, came as a result of that investigation?
- Last month when asked if the law firm appointed to conduct investigation of staff complaints against a board member has served as the personal attorney for the superintendent in the past and if so, does this create an appearance of lack of impartiality?" the BoE Presidents response was "I am not answering any of these questions. It has nothing to do with us. We don't discuss personnel, we don't discuss negotiations and we don't discuss litigation in public”. Your response as representative of this board did not address my question. Please answer my question as a representative of this Board.
I would point out that each and every board member owes a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of the district and to the extent that the bylaws seek to limit and control the actions of any board member interferes with or limits a board members duty in this respect, such by laws are in and of themselves potentially violative of that duty.
Furthermore, any attempt by any official of this district, whether elected or appointed, to limit or interfere with my right of free speech, inquiry and expression are violative of my constitutionally protected rights as a citizen.
I NEED to state that the staff complaints manufactured against me were done so by 2 individuals in December of last year, both of whom work at Central Admin. One is an officer of the board and the other is a Central Admin. It’s important to me that taxpayers know I have not questioned, inquired about or admonished the great teachers and support staff of this district. I will continue to question decisions made that put this district at risk of legal action or wasteful spending in the hundreds of thousands of [dollars] such as the near purchase of a $312,000 roof system that was not needed and thwarted by a board member.
I would also point out that both items are one year old and that our policy dictates all complaints be addressed as near to any episode as possible and there is no coincidence that my term as a trustee expires this May. Should I choose to continue on with this board I would need to be reelected by the voters.
This Superintendent has directed his administrators to direct employees to give written accounts of several of my conversations over these last 2 years. One Central Admin [was told] by an employee that “they are trying to have Gina Genti removed from the board”. This is nearly 2 years ago.
In addition when I asked for copies of the complaints on November 27 both individuals denied my request. It is my desire to share the complaints and the back up information with certain individuals. I will do so when they are provided to me as a sitting Board Trustee. [I] caution taxpayers to question motives and spending habits of this BoE as we move into budget season.
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