I am writing in response to the article which was published in the Patch on June 21, 2012. By way of disclosure, I am currently a trustee and President of the West Hempstead School Board, however, this statement reflects my opinions and not that of the WH School Board or district.
In the Patch article, Cynthia DiMiceli explained that the recent letter she sent to West Hempstead residents was done to explain why she voted against the adoption of the school budget. The article mistakenly reports that at the “She had tried to present her position during the meeting, but was told by the BOE President that it was not the appropriate forum to do so.”
It is correct that I stated that it was not the appropriate forum to do so; however, my statement was not directed at DiMiceli but at a community resident that expressed her disappointment in DiMiceli and had asked for an explanation for her NO vote. This occurred at the end of a long meeting during the session reserved for public comment. If Mrs. DiMiceli really wanted to explain her opposition to the budget, she could have done so at that point, which was within her right.
But in reality, the proper forum should have been during the many hours of discussion prior to the board’s vote. Before the board votes on a docket, it is customary for those who plan to oppose an issue to express their concerns so the issue could be debated. This board met on three previous evenings to discuss the budget and we spent over one hour on the evening of April 17 discussing the budget. Mrs. DiMiceli had all of those opportunities to express her inclination to vote NO on the budget. This would have given her fellow board members the opportunity to hear her reasons and enter into a constructive dialogue that may have resulted in a budget that she could accept. Others on the board expressed some individual concerns along the way and we were able to work them out. This is how a board operates.
Mrs. DiMiceli also used the press to explain her reasons for opposing the budget shortly after the April 17 meeting. In an interview with the West Hempstead/Malverne Herald, Mrs. DiMiceli stated that “more could have been done to rein in spending … All we do is spending and spending, and not assessing.”
This misleading statement was expressed just days after a meeting where the board and administration “reined in spending” by further reducing the tax levy, and after she sat through an hour-long presentation on the district’s extensive assessment procedures.
I have long been one of Mrs. DiMiceli’s strongest supporters on the board but based on her recent actions and statements, I, like many in the community, feel betrayed and surprised. Her statements mislead the public with incorrect facts, as if her motives are simply to undermine the positive work of our district personnel and the successful results that we have been experiencing in this district.
I decided to run for school board four years ago because I felt I could contribute and be an active part of the change that was occurring in our district under our newly appointed Superintendent John Hogan. I am glad that I made that decision. Those who attend the school board meetings know that I am passionate about what I do and that I am an independent thinker who is not afraid of voicing my opinion. However, I have always respected our code of conduct, which clearly states that we must work as a team and not individuals, and that we must abide by all board decisions once they are made and assist in carrying them out effectively.
Nobody expects the board to always agree and in fact, we often do not agree on issues. However, effective board members learn to compromise and if a decision does not go your way, it is unheard of to go out publically to blatantly undermine the board’s final decision.
DiMiceli writes that the district and community "must have the courage to face and admit our deficiencies." Based on the public outcry for her to resign, perhaps it is time that she heeds her own words rather than create unnecessary controversy due to what many perceive to be the workings of an insecure megalomaniac.