Kings Park school officials leave board seat vacant

Kings Park School District clerk Patti Capobianco, left,

Kings Park School District clerk Patti Capobianco, left, administers the oath of office to Liz Barrett. Barrett resigned as a board member amid complaints about her handling of confidential employment information and a fundraiser held on her behalf. (July 10, 2012) (Credit: David Pokress)

Kings Park school trustees unanimously decided to leave a former member's seat vacant until next year's election.

Trustees said at Tuesday's board meeting they would wait until the May election to fill Liz Barrett's seat.

Barrett resigned Dec. 10 amid complaints about her handling of confidential employment information and a fundraiser held on her behalf, saying she did nothing wrong.

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The board weighed a few options: to appoint a new trustee, hold a special election or wait until the next election.

"While I think there are several community members, as well as past board members, that I would be very confident in appointing, I don't necessarily feel that that would be the prudent thing for our board of education to do," said board president Marie Goldstein.

"There are [several] months left before the next election . . . The community should elect who serves on their board of education."

Trustee Tom Locascio said that a special election would "probably cost upward of $10,000, which . . . would be a total waste of money," considering there are only a few months until the next election.

Locascio said he didn't think that appointing a trustee would put that person in a good position. "I think for the entire community, it would probably be best to leave that seat vacant and have it filled at the next election," he said.

Trustees Charles Leo and Diane Nally also agreed that the expense for a special election would be unnecessary and that the seat should remain vacant.

Richard Macellaro, a Kings Park resident who ran unsuccessfully for Smithtown Town Board this year, asked the board to consider appointing someone temporarily in case a fifth trustee vote was needed.

In an interview, Goldstein said, "If something would, in fact, require a fifth vote, my suggestion . . . would be to reach out to either a past board member or a community member, and seek the attorney's advice on whether or not there could be a temporary appointment."

Goldstein said the decision in such a case would include input from all board members, adding, "I do not believe that an appointment at this current time is necessary. I believe elected officials should be left to the voters."

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