Malverne Board of Education President Peg O'Connor read a statement at Tuesday's school board meeting, explaining why the board appointed an impartial investigator last month to probe complaints made against a school board trustee (Gina Genti) by two district employees.
O'Connor provided a copy of her statement to Patch. Here is the full transcript below.
"I would like to address a matter which concerns the public's perception of the Board of Education, its members, and certain actions that have been taken by the Board, which have recently been called into question. Simply stated, a number of people have approached not only me, but other Board members as well, asking, 'What is going on with the Board of Education? Why does it seem like there is [a real disconnect] [real antagonism] among the Board members?'
Let me start by saying that each member of the Board was elected by the voters of this district to act in the best interests of the school district community. As Board members, one of our main duties is to establish policies and regulations which enable the District -- and the Board -- to function in an efficient and lawful manner. These policies are all reviewed and adopted in public session, and they govern the actions of the various members of the school community, including students, staff and Board members.
One such regulation, recently adopted by the Board, addresses the procedure to be followed in the event that a District employee files a complaint against a Board member. The regulation states that in such cases, the Board must engage an 'impartial investigator' to conduct an investigation, and upon the conclusion of the investigation, make a full report to the Board, and make recommendations to the Board (if appropriate) for the Board's consideration. Unfortunately, the Board has received complaints from two different District employees regarding a Board member's conduct toward them. In fact, the Board has received correspondence from the attorney of one such employee, threatening potential legal action. Given these facts, the Board had no alternative but to engage an impartial investigator, and this is exactly what the Board has done. This action was taken at our November Board meeting.
Additionally, the Board has adopted a number of policies which relate to the personal conduct of Board members which, among other things, relate to the manner in which Board members shall obtain information from District administrators and other employees. These policies -- which are not uncommon among school boards and are applicable to all Board members -- were adopted for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it helps to ensure District employees are able to perform their job duties in an efficient manner. Second, it enables all Board members to receive the same information at the same time. These seemed to the Board at the time, and they seem to us now, to be eminently reasonable rules for Board members to follow, and in the best interests of the school district.
A majority of the Board believes that it is important to enforce these policies as well, for the good of the Board and the community we serve. We have tried politely and valiantly to remind Board members of their obligation to comply with Board policies, and will continue to do so. Frequently, however, we have been frustrated in these efforts by one Board member, who has instead attempted to accuse fellow Board members of wasting District money. That is simply not true. We hope that the community will recognize the importance of all Board members' adherence to Board policy, and we will continue to perform our duties as trustees of this school district. We sincerely hope that the new year will bring a spirit of cooperation among the community and the members of the Board of Education."
- WATCH: Power Struggles Shut Down Malverne School Board Meeting
- Malverne Trustee Criticizes BOE's Choice for 'Impartial Investigator'
- Malverne School Board Hires Firm to Investigate Complaints Against Trustee