Embattled school board member named VP

Kings Park School District clerk Patti Capobianco, left,

Kings Park School District clerk Patti Capobianco, left, administers the oath of office to new Board of Education Vice President Liz Barrett. (July 10, 2012) (Credit: David Pokress)

A Kings Park school board member who faces possible expulsion from the panel was elected last night as its vice president.

About 50 people applauded as Liz Barrett was sworn in during a board meeting at Kings Park High School. Barrett, 43, was chosen unanimously.

Last month, a divided school board -- including two members who have since left the board when their terms expired June 30 -- voted 3-2 to remove Barrett for allegedly divulging confidential information about a student. Barrett is appealing her possible removal to the state Department of Education.

State confidentiality laws prohibit school officials from discussing information about students that they learn as part of their work for the district. It is not known when the Education Department will rule on Barrett's appeal.

Barrett, who works as a flight attendant, was elected in 2010 to a three-year term. Through her attorneys, she earlier declined to comment on the board's expulsion vote or the alleged incident that precipitated it.

Tuesday night, board members put aside their differences and extended olive branches. First, Barrett nominated trustee Marie Goldstein -- who last month voted for Barrett's removal -- to be board president. Goldstein was elected. Then, board member Tom Locascio, who also voted for Barrett's removal, nominated Barrett to serve as vice president.

After the meeting, Barrett said she and her fellow trustees "are committed to work together as a team." She added that she is "confident that I will remain on the board."

Goldstein declined to comment on the vote to remove Barrett. She said she would work with Barrett.

"We have a school district to run, and our children and our students continue to be our top priority," Goldstein said.

Barrett's attorneys have said she violated no confidentiality laws. The attorneys also said the school board made procedural errors, contending that an initial vote for Barrett's ouster came during a portion of a meeting that was not open to the public. The board later took another vote on Barrett's removal, during a public session.

In the 3-2 vote taken publicly, William Motherway joined Goldstein and Locascio in voting to remove Barrett. Barrett and trustee Steve Weber voted against her removal.

Motherway and Weber did not seek re-election.

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