The District 24 Board of Education meeting was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Monday — the agenda for the reorganization meeting, posted on the website earlier that day, confirmed the time. But it was almost 4:20 when the trustees entered the William L. Buck Multipurpose Room.
“It was supposed to start at 3:30, but at five to four, they said it’s not starting until 4:30,” said Eileen Matz, a grandmother in the district. “It’s disrespectful.”
When the meeting started, Trustee Tony Iadevaio explained that the delay was due to disagreements about whom the next board president should be. He said that as the sitting vice president, tradition dictated that he should succeed John Maier as president for the upcoming school year. However, the trustees preferred another candidate.
“We have a rotation schedule that’s been in effect,” Iadevaio said. “I’ve been on the board 38-plus years and we’ve never had a problem, everything’s settled in the room . . . Now that I’m up for the presidency, the board wants to go in a different direction.”
Rather than electing Iadevaio to serve as president, the board voted 5-2 in favor of Donna LaRocco, who has served on the board for the past 10 years. Last year, she served on the health and wellness, legislative, education and buildings and grounds committees. She was re-elected
to the board in May after defeating Melissa Herrera.
Only two trustees voted against LaRocco: Iadevaio and Paul DePace. Iadevaio said he believed that other board members did not vote for him because of “personal vendettas” and “politics.”
He added that he believed he would have been a good president. He pointed to his award as the 2014 Outstanding School Board Member of New York State as indicative of his qualifications, and urged anyone interested in becoming a board member to pick up an application to run next March.
“This is politics, ladies and gentlemen,” Iadevaio said. “It has nothing to do with running a good school district that we have.”
Outgoing board President John Maier and Trustee Armando Hernandez, who will serve as the board’s next vice president, said that the trustees had their reasons for not choosing Iadevaio, but that they preferred not to speak about them in a public meeting. “There’s no personal vendettas,” Maier added. “I believe the board chose the right person.”
Hernandez also said that he thought the meeting was professional, despite the controversy and the delay. “Iadevaio said his piece and that’s fair,” Hernandez said. “We let him.”
The meeting was Dr. Don Sturz’s first as the district’s superintendent. Sturz previously served as the assistant superintendent for pupil services in the Levittown Union Free School District, and was appointed to the District 24 post on May 17.
At Monday’s meeting, he spoke about his transition. Sturz said that he attended end-of-the-year barbecues, met with his fellow administrators and interacted with some of the students in the district’s summer school program.
“I’m thrilled to be here [and] I’m looking forward to becoming a part of this community,” Sturz said at the meeting.
He also announced that earlier that day, the district received a $75,000 bullet grant that was secured by New York State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages. The grant will fund technology in each classroom.
“This grant will go towards the development of future-ready classrooms, which will integrate technology into the learning experiences of our students,” Sturz said in a statement. “This will serve to prepare them for the ever-changing world ahead.”
The board will hold its next public meeting on Aug. 23 at 8:30 p.m. Anyone with questions about the district can reach out to the district offices at (516) 434 - 2825.
District offices will be open for the summer from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.