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Minority groups argue for Suffolk CC presidential finalist

Black and Latino groups and a Suffolk lawmaker are expected to plead with Suffolk County Community College trustees Thursday to name presidential finalist Shaun McKay, who is black, to head the 24,000-student school rather than reopen a national search.

Six groups, including the Islip NAACP, the Long Island Black Educators Association and the Long Island Latino Teachers Association, issued a protest letter asking why McKay, Suffolk's interim executive vice president, was not chosen after two other finalists dropped out. Several said they would like to speak at Thursday's trustees meeting on the Brentwood campus.

Suffolk Legis. Ricardo Montano (D-Central Islip) said, "Obviously he met all the qualifications since he was a finalist. This is a sham."

The outcry comes after board chairman Ernesto Mattace said last month that the presidential search, which had considered more than 30 contenders, would be reopened.

The faculty assembly from the school also passed a resolution urging that McKay be named to the college's top post.

Mattace said Wednesday he would allow protesters to speak. "I have never refused anyone to come before the board to express their opinion," he said.

The joint protest letter, also signed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Islamic Association of Long Island, and the Long Island Men's Center, maintained there were "alarming questions" about the "fairness and transparency" of the search process.

Montano also criticized the trustees for failing to put the issue of reopening the search to a formal vote.

"I want to see who votes which way. They have to be accountable," he said. "I support Shaun McKay's candidacy and the way this was done reeks of foul play."

Dafny Irizary, president of the Latino teachers group, criticized the board for leading McKay on. "You don't give an engagement ring if there's no intention to marry," she said.

McKay also has the backing of Michael J. Grant, the son of the late legislative presiding officer for whom the college's Brentwood campus is named. "I don't understand why they passed over Shaun," said Grant, a local undertaker. "He's been involved in the community and I know he would be a great asset to Suffolk community college as president."

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