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Monday, December 22, 2014
Malverne trustee seeks legal recourse against board
(Page 2 of 3)
Gina Genti

Her actions, however, prompted the investigation. Its results will not be made public. Genti said that the board prohibited her from seeing the documentation of the investigation, denied her requests for information from school personnel and excluded her participation at the board meeting in March at which board members accepted Smith’s report.

“You can’t take away a public officer’s right to vote,” Genti said. “I’m only one vote. I’m not going to change the outcome — though had I been part of the process, we probably wouldn’t be where we are today.”

According to Genti, the board had approved policies in 2010 that restricted members from discussing its agenda with the media. In addition, the board granted only two of the 14 Freedom of Information Law requests she submitted to gain access to what she described as public information.

She said that school district staff members made several complaints about her conduct, accusing her of discrimination, harassment and “creating an environment of fear and anxiety.”

“I was basically fulfilling my duties, my fiduciary responsibility to represent the public and get answers, but I couldn’t get them,” Genti said. “Those questions were asked for very specific reasons. If I frightened them, I don’t know what to say — I’m sorry. I apologize, but these are questions that need to be asked.”

Genti’s court petition described the board’s resolution in accepting Smith’s findings as a violation of the Open Meetings Law and the Public Officers Law. She asked the Supreme Court to review the board’s consent to Smith’s findings, along with what she claims is a “violation of her administrative rights by fellow members.” If granted, the petition would set aside the board’s decision, and restore all of her duties on the board.

“There were no state or federal laws violated, there were some board policies that they said I violated — I don’t know what they are because I was never able to see the findings — and I think the conclusion was that the investigator found my behavior troublesome,” Genti said. “I would say that he’s probably right, but all for the right reasons. I was elected to represent the taxpayer and the student, and that’s what I was doing at every turn.”

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