At a special East Meadow Board of Education meeting on Monday, the board approved the probationary appointment of David Spinnato as the district’s new assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. Spinnato’s appointment was unanimously approved by the board in a motion that began the meeting.
Spinnato will start work in the East Meadow Union Free School District on March 1. He joins the district from the Elmont Union Free School District, where he is currently the assistant superintendent of curriculum and technology. Prior to that, in Elmont, he was the director of technology curriculum, and a classroom instructor in grades seven through 12, teaching life science, physical science, intro to living environment for special education students, anatomy, physiology and more.
The district’s new superintendent, Kenneth Rosner, who also came from Elmont, assumed the job last Sept. 1.
The decision to appoint Spinnato follows a controversial episode in East Meadow last year. Undercover videos, taken and released by Project Veritas, showed the district’s former superintendent of curriculum and instruction, David Casamento, discussing diversity, equity and inclusion being taught covertly in schools across Long Island. The matter incited outrage from parents of children in the district.
Project Veritas, according its website, is a “nonprofit journalism enterprise” that “investigates and exposes corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions to achieve a more ethical and transparent society.”
In the video from a year ago, Casamento was seen talking about how certain topics need to be taught without parents’ knowledge because of the potential backlash. Casamento was “administratively reassigned” following the incident, and no longer working in East Meadow schools.
The video also raised questions about the district’s hiring practices, as a portion of it showed Casamento talking about not hiring conservative-leaning candidates. He said that a rubric for hiring had been designed, in light of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
At a school board meeting last March, former East Meadow Superintendent Kenneth Card and Anthony Russo, the assistant superintendent of personnel and administration, gave attendees a look into the hiring process for instructional and administrative staff.
For instructional staff, a job vacancy is initially listed internally and externally. Applicants’ resumes are reviewed by a committee made up of principals, assistant principals, directors or department chairs, who decide who is called in for a committee interview. The finalists for the position are tasked with a demonstration lesson in an East Meadow school. Afterward, finalists are recommended to human resources and application materials and references are checked.
Human resources then completes its certification and fingerprint check of candidates, and then Russo and administration interviews the candidates. Candidates are then recommended to the superintendent of schools for review, and finally, the superintendent recommends candidates to the board of education for approval.
The hiring-attributes rubric — which was developed by a DEI committee — is used voluntarily during the interview process, and it is used to evaluate candidates’ personalities, quality of instruction, student/teacher relationships, and professionalism. The rubric is not mandatory.
The hiring for new administrative staff starts off the same way. Cabinet administration reviews resumes submitted for principal or director positions, and the cabinet and building administrators review resumes for assistant principals, deans and department chairs.
School board President Matthew Melnick said at Monday’s meeting that Spinnato was “highly thought of through each phase of the interview process, which included interviewing with teachers, administrators, cabinet members and finally the Board of Education.”
“I believe I speak for the board when I say that Mr. Spinnato impressed us not only with his experience, but also his forward-thinking ideas, which will be an asset to our district,” Melnick said. “We’re excited to be able to fill this very important position in our district with someone who has extensive experience in elementary through high school education.”
Spinnato attended Monday’s meeting, and chatted with parents, teachers, board members and administrators. He will formally introduce himself to the East Meadow community at the next school board of meeting, scheduled for Feb. 7, at 7 p.m., at the Salisbury Center, at 718 The Plain Road in Westbury. Meetings are also streamed live on YouTube.
For more information, visit the Board of Education tab on the district’s website, EMUFSD.us.