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Kings Park schools: No election law violated

Kings Park High School at 200 East Main

Kings Park High School at 200 East Main St. houses students grades 9 through 12. It is the only high school in the Kings Park Central School District. (June 27, 2012) Credit: Fran Berkman

The Kings Park school board has revealed that they were asked to investigate the superintendent's handling of a possible election law violation.

A community member, who asked not to be named, filed a complaint following a June 4 board meeting asking whether Superintendent Susan Agruso had improperly investigated an allegation that an employee asked other staff members "to sign a petition for a board candidate . . . when the employee should have been engaged in work assignments," said board president Marie Goldstein, reading from a prepared statement at Tuesday's board meeting.

Agruso met with staff members on May 28 who may have witnessed the incident, alongside the president of the union and principal of the building, Goldstein said.

The complaint, obtained by Newsday, suggested that Agruso's questioning of employees "elevates this to intimidation by position of authority."

The board determined that Agruso "did not violate election law," said Goldstein, adding that Agruso "does not need the authorization from the board to investigate complaints concerning staff or students."

It was learned during the investigation that school board member Liz Barrett, not a staff member, had asked staff to sign two petitions for board candidates, Goldstein said.

"I had petitions that I had seven employees signatures -- sign it -- on school property," Barrett acknowledged at the meeting. "That was prior to the election, which on past practice, I didn't know it was a problem."

Barrett said she later consulted attorneys about the case, "and there was nothing that I did wrong by getting signatures like that," she said. "Granted it wasn't in the best judgment."Ryan McDonald, 23, of Kings Park lamented "the lack of transparency" at the meeting and questioned why the board did not seek outside counsel.

"I don't want to say you attempted to sweep it under the rug," he said. "But it sure looks like you attempted to sweep it under the rug."

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