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Education commish rules Wyandanch trustee entitled to serve full term on library board

Katrina Crawford is sworn in as a Wyandanch

Katrina Crawford is sworn in as a Wyandanch Library Board trustee by her attorney, Shawn Cullinane, on Jan. 4, 2020. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

The state Department of Education has ruled in favor of a Wyandanch library trustee who won a five-year term that was later challenged by the library board.

Interim Commissioner of Education for the state Betty Rosa gave her decision on Jan. 11 that trustee Katrina Crawford, who was elected in 2019, is entitled to the five-year term ending June 30, 2024.

Crawford ran as a write-in candidate for an open trustee spot in April 2019 after the board disqualified her from being on the ballot, stating she had not met residency requirements despite her providing multiple forms of proof. Crawford won the election for the unpaid seat, but the board then threw out half of her votes because they lacked her middle initial. Crawford appealed to the state, and in November 2019 the board was ordered to appoint Crawford to the seat.

The following month the board passed a resolution appointing Crawford only until the April 2020 election to fill her seat "for the remainder of the term." Board president Ghenya Grant maintained that the state’s decision had rendered the election results "annulled" and the seat "vacant," and that state law required vacancies to be filled only until the next election. Crawford filed an appeal to the state and in March received a stay.

In her decision last week, Rosa wrote that the state’s previous ruling "unambiguously" concluded that Crawford was entitled to a five-year term and there is "no basis" to her serving anything less. Rosa stated the board had not "submitted any proof in support of their numerous defenses or explained, in any way, how such defenses are applicable to this appeal."

The interim commissioner further advised the board that "any future noncompliance with this decision or the prior decision may constitute a neglect of duty or a refusal to carry into effect the educational purposes" of the library.

Crawford’s attorney, Shawn Cullinane of Lindenhurst, praised the ruling.

"The decision puts the powers that be on notice that those who want to improve their community will work hard for what’s right," he said. "My only disappointment is the nearly two years’ worth of time and taxpayers’ money wasted by the library board in their fraudulent attempt to silence the voice of the Wyandanch community."

Library attorney Howard Gilbert, of Melville, did not respond to requests for comment.

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