Trustees of Suffolk County Community College voted Wednesday to return businesswoman Anne Shybunko-Moore to the board by giving her excused absences for meetings she recently missed -- including one in which she filmed a television ad for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Start Up-NY.
A resolution also has been filed at the Suffolk legislature to reappoint Shybunko-Moore to avoid any question about the legality of the retroactive board vote.
The board approved the resolution without discussion, but then entered a nearly hourlong executive session in which it discussed the potential appointment of a position, according to board chairwoman Dafny Irizarry. She declined to comment on whether it was a new or existing position or provide other details.
Shybunko-Moore, who attended the session, said she was "obviously pleased" and said the board could now "move forward from this distraction and focus on what is important to the college."
What makes the legality of the board's action uncertain is that it comes after the board last week sent a letter to the county legislature indicating that Shybunko-Moore's trustee position had become vacant because she missed four consecutive regular board meetings.
Under county law, missing four consecutive regular board meetings automatically creates a vacancy unless the board passes a resolution excusing the absence. Shybunko-Moore said she was unaware of the rule, and believed she had excused absences because she informed school officials ahead of time.
The issue arose amid a behind-the-scenes battle in which college president Shaun McKay has pushed to have Irizarry replaced later this month at the board's annual election, according to college and county sources. McKay went on vacation the day after the controversy surfaced and he did not attend the special meeting.
Meanwhile, Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), education committee chair, filed a resolution Tuesday to reappoint Shybunko-Moore to the board, which could be voted on as soon as June 19.
"Taking the belt and suspenders approach is a good thing to do," said George Nolan, legislature counsel. "Everyone wants her to stay. . . . We just want to make sure there is no ambiguity about her status. I believe it is just wise to pass a resolution."
Irizarry said she had no problem with the dual approach. "They felt it was a good idea," she said. "I'm obviously happy because it shows she has more support."