A trustee on the Valley Stream 13 Board of Education is stepping down after allegedly making inappropriate comments about Latinos on social media and becoming the subject of a special investigation requested by his fellow trustees.
Vinayak "Vinny" Pandit turned in a letter of resignation to the board, according to a post on the district's website. He joined the board in 2015 and was reelected last year.
The statement from the board read: "On November 6, 2019, Mr. Vinayak B. Pandit tendered an irrevocable letter of resignation from his position as a trustee of the Board of Education of Valley Stream UFSD Thirteen effective December 6, 2019. The Board of Education unanimously accepted his resignation during a special meeting held the same day. We thank him for his years of service as a board member to this community."
Pandit could not be reached for comment Friday.
The school board voted last month to appoint a special counsel to investigate whether Pandit's alleged actions constituted official misconduct, which would warrant his removal from office. They also approved a resolution by a vote of 6-0 asking him to step down. Pandit was not at that Oct. 22 meeting.
The resolution stated that statements made by Pandit were deemed “improper and representative of poor judgment.” It stated that Pandit "made derogatory statements" on Oct. 11.
According to a screen shot of the statements on Facebook, Pandit commented on a thread about a Hispanic Heritage event with Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, saying the topic should be how Nassau County will eradicate “Hispanic/Latino gangsters, Rapists, Kidnappers and Drug Lords, from our streets so it will be a safe place to live. This is due to crimes committed everyday by the above group of origin as we all see in the news & newspapers." The post was later removed.
Parents in the elementary school district, which enrolls about 2,000 students, had called for Pandit to step down and started a petition seeking his removal. According to data from the State Education Department, the district's student population is more than 27 percent "Hispanic or Latino."
Pandit had served as vice president on the prior board and on the board’s business committee, according to a 2018 interview with Newsday. Board trustee positions are unpaid. Pandit, who has lived in the district for more than 17 years, earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics in India in 1979.