Dafny Irizarry was elected unanimously Thursday to her fourth one-year term as chairwoman of the Suffolk County Community College board of trustees, despite what one member described as "inappropriate interference" before the vote.
Irizarry was re-elected without debate after her only potential competitor, Belinda Alverez-Groneman, dropped out. Alverez-Groneman said she withdrew because "it was unfair" to seek the job as a holdover appointee who could be replaced at any time.
College counsel Louis Petrizzo also sent a draft of a solicitation to law firms for a contract to represent the trustees in cases where there might be a conflict between the board and the administration.
After the vote, Irizarry thanked the board for its support and urged members to "focus as a team" on improving the college for the students.
But trustee James Morgo, who headed the nominating committee, also expressed concern that there was "inappropriate interference with our decision," in an effort by others to get Irizarry removed as chairwoman, a decision "that is the board's alone."
Morgo declined to identify those who he believed interfered but several college and county sources have said college president Shaun McKay and his supporters made calls to trustees to seek Irizarry's removal. McKay was not at the meeting yesterday and Pertrizzo, acting in Mckay's place, said he was unaware of what Morgo was talking about.
Last month, college officials maintained trustee Ann Shybunko-Moore's position became vacant under county law when she missed four consecutive meetings without a board resolution excusing her absences.
Shybunko-Moore, a leading Long Island businesswoman heavily involved with workforce training, said she thought she had excused absences because she informed college officials ahead of time and missed one meeting filming a state TV ad for Start Up-NY, a program from which the college is seeking funding. Since then, the college trustees voted to excuse her absences and the county legislature Tuesday reappointed her as a backup.
Several board members, including Shybunko-Moore, emphasized the college and its students have made great strides in programs and sports. "I hope some positive comes of out this," she said. "And we don't concentrate on what's going on behind closed doors."