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Critics slam board's vote on Brentwood middle school principal

Richard Loeschner speaks to the board after the

Richard Loeschner speaks to the board after the appointment of Dr. Bergre Escorbores, not pictured, to the post of Assistant Superintendent for secondary education, was voted down by the Brentwood School board during a meeting on July 25, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Brentwood school trustees, in a split vote, did not approve the appointment of a middle school principal to assistant superintendent for secondary education, drawing loud criticism from supporters at Thursday night's board meeting.

Bergre Escorbores, 36, the principal of South Middle School with 15 years of teaching and administrative experience in the district, left quickly after the 2-2 vote.

Trustees Helen Moss, the board president, and Paula Moore voted against Escorbores. Robert Feliciano and Ana Martinez voted for him. Elizabeth Mercado abstained, and Keith Allison and Gail Kirkham were absent.

"I'm disappointed in the board's vote," Escorbores said Friday. "I was looking forward to serving the students and teachers of Brentwood in a higher capacity in the position of assistant superintendent for secondary education. I'm still looking forward to serving them as the principal of South Middle School."

He was recommended by Superintendent Joseph Bond, who declined to comment after the vote. Moss said the district received about 150 applications for the position, which pays $180,000 a year.

Escorbores, who was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in New York City, would have been the first Latino assistant superintendent for secondary education in the district, which has the highest Latino student population on Long Island. About 78 percent of Brentwood's 17,142 students in the 2012-13 school year identified as Hispanic, according to latest figures available from the state Department of Education.

The assistant superintendent for elementary education, Aurelia Henriquez, is Latina.

The vote brought demands for explanation from a former board president and from Brentwood High School's principal, among others at the meeting. "Why was this individual turned down?" said George Talley, the panel's ex-president.

Brentwood High School Principal Richard Loeschner asked board members to explain precisely why Escorbores was not approved.

"What exactly was wrong with his candidacy? What more could you possibly want?" Loeschner said. "He has outstanding credentials. He's an outstanding human being."

Loeschner added, "I'm extremely disappointed."

Moss replied that the board cannot discuss personnel issues in public. Feliciano, in trying to calm the audience, said, "We may not like the outcome, but it is a democratic process."

Moore added the board did not take the vote lightly. "It's not an easy decision," she said.

Mercado said she abstained because she did not participate in the interview process.

After the meeting, parent and district employee John Rueb said he was unhappy. "I'm disgusted that politics take place over our students' progress," he said.

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