The West Hempstead Board of Education appointed a former school board member Tuesday night to the vacant position that has existed since Trustee Anthony Brita resigned in late June.
Vinny Trocchia, who had served on the school board from 1990 to 2008, when he lost his campaign for re-election, was appointed during the Sept. 20 business meeting.
"He has over 18 years of school board experience," Board President Walter Ejnes said upon announcing Trocchia's appointment. Ejnes along with Vice President James Mariano, and Trustees Pamela Lotito and Carol Riling voted in favor of the appointment, while Trustees Cynthia DiMiceli and Rudolf Schindler abstained.
Both expressed their disappointment with the way the vacancy was handled.
"There was not too much out-of-the-box thinking," said DiMiceli. "In order for an organization to grow and evolve, you should always cultivate new talent...which can bring new energy."
DiMiceli had expressed her disapproval at previous meetings with her fellow board members' decision to not further explore all the options they were presented with, including holding a special election to fill the position.
Schindler seconded this opinion. "We have not done due diligence," he said, but added that he would ultimately support whatever path the board took.
During the summer, a majority of the board passed a resolution instructing Superintendent John Hogan to reach out to certain individuals to gauge their interest in filling the seat. Trocchia explained that he was contacted and asked to come in for an interview.
Upon his successful appointment, Trocchia was sworn in and took his seat next to Schindler on the board as the meeting continued. However, seeing him in the front of the room once again did not sit well with one West Hempstead resident and former employee, who spoke up during the second period for the public to comment.
"It's a slap in the face to the community to have a person who lost an election appointed to the board," Barbara Keilty-Michaleski said. Having lived in the district for more than 50 years, worked as a educator and served as the teachers union president for a decade, Keilty-Michaleski has been a long-time follower of the West Hempstead Board of Education. She pointed out that in the past, a board position opened up but it was kept vacant.
"Why do we need to appoint someone now?" she asked.
"I think it adds more to the group," Trocchia responded.
Keilty-Michaleski gave her theory for why the board members appointed Trocchia, accusing them of in-fighting, putting politics first and forming alliances.
Trocchia will serve on the board for eight months until a special election is held in the spring.
"I wanted to do what I could to help," he said, adding that he has no desire to stay on past the special election.