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Lindenhurst teen disciplined in walkout defeated in school board race

Gabrielle Anzalone said her candidacy was not prompted by her district’s decision to punish her and other students but to better represent student voices in public education.

Lindenhurst school board candidate Gabrielle Anzalone, 18, as

Lindenhurst school board candidate Gabrielle Anzalone, 18, as she awaits the results of the school board election at her home on Tuesday in Lindenhurst. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

The Lindenhurst teen who ran for the local school board after being disciplined with others for demonstrating in March against gun violence was defeated in Tuesday’s election.

Gabrielle Anzalone, 18, received 747 votes, losing to Josephine Martino, 44, who had 1,036 votes.

But Anzalone said she learned valuable lessons just being a candidate.

“It was eye-opening,” said Anzalone, a high school senior. “I don’t know if I will ever run for the Board of Education again — but for higher office definitely.”

The teen has said her candidacy was not prompted by her district’s decision to punish her and other students but to better represent student voices in public education. She was one of at least two high school seniors seeking seats on local boards of education. Teens also ran in the Hicksville and Eastport-South Manor school districts.

Anzalone said after she participated in the national school walkout honoring Parkland shooting victims on March 14, she was suspended by school officials and given three days of detention for her action. Later, the district rescinded the punishment at the request of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The national walkout, which lasted 17 minutes for the 17 victims, was organized by students in the days after the deadly Parkland, Florida, rampage carried out by a former student who used a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle. Students across Long Island walked out of school buildings or participated in other demonstrations to remember the victims and call for greater gun safety.

Some districts had warned students they could face disciplinary action for walking out of class, and parents in at least three — Connetquot, Lindenhurst and Rocky Point — said their children had been disciplined.

After the walkout, Anzalone was approached by people she knew in the community who suggested she run, she said.

Tuesday, she said that one of the best things about being a candidate was that she inspired others and prompted people she knew to register to vote.

“I got a lot more support than I expected,” she said.

Another 18-year-old, Kaitlyn Gambina of Mastic, who ran for the board of education in the Eastport-South Manor School District did not win a seat Tuesday. Gambina, who gained 292 votes in the race, faced a field of five candidates running for two at-large seats.

Kyle Singh, 18, a college freshman from Hicksville, was also defeated in his school board race. He now attends Georgetown University.

Students, who must be 18 to run, have succeeded before, including state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who was a Mineola High School senior in 1972 when he became the first 18-year-old in the state to win a school board seat. Joshua Lafazan, who became Nassau’s youngest-ever county legislator when elected at age 23 in November, was elected as a high school senior in 2012 at age 18 to the Syosset Board of Education. He now represents Nassau’s 18th Legislative District.

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