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Westbury school board affirms who's in charge

In a strongly worded clarification, the Westbury Board of Education sent a letter to residents this week affirming that the current board in charge, led by president Pless Dickerson, is the school district's rightful leader.

Dickerson's position was questioned after he was challenged by Karin Campbell. She had also claimed that she was the board president and that Dickerson had been removed earlier this year for missing three consecutive meetings. But the board's letter, arriving in mailboxes Friday, cited action by the state Department of Education and other legal proceedings that school district officials said confirmed that Dickerson's status and the current board's makeup are "not in question."

"We hope we have resolved any questions about the District's leadership and the direction our District is taking," the letter read.

But Campbell also issued a statement Friday, saying that the "districtwide letter is nothing more than smoke and mirrors."

"The issue here is that Dr. Dickerson's seat is illegitimate because it was vacated by his multiple and consecutive absences to board meetings where very key votes were cast," Campbell said. She added that she is petitioning the state Department of Education to remove Dickerson from the board, along with Superintendent Constance Clark-Snead. "Dr. Clark-Snead has failed to raise education standards and the community continues to be misguided."

In the letter sent to residents, district officials said that the state Department of Education recently took action to address any questions about the Westbury board's leadership.

First, the state education commissioner issued the board a "stay order" on June 21 reinstating Dickerson, whose seat had been declared vacated.

On July 7, the Nassau BOCES superintendent, who is a local representative of the commissioner of education, wrote a letter affirming the May election of board members Siela Bynoe, Rodney Caines and Leslie Davis.

In June, before the swearing-in of those three, three other members, including Dickerson, were ousted for missing three straight meetings without valid excuses. However, the board over which Dickerson presides has since rescinded that resolution and he has withdrawn his appeal.

In addition, a restraining order issued by a Nassau County judge last month ordered two Campbell allies, Larry Wornum and Rod Bailey, who lost their board seats in May's elections, to stop posing as board members during meetings, eliminating any chance Campbell could hold onto control of the board.

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