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Wyandanch superintendent ousted in surprise move

Mary Jones, former Wyandanch superintendent.

Mary Jones, former Wyandanch superintendent. Credit: Richard Slattery

Wyandanch's embattled school superintendent, Mary Jones, was ousted Wednesday night in a surprise move by the school board's majority and replaced by Pless Dickerson, a district administrator in charge of curriculum.

The school board president, Denise Baines, said that the ouster vote was 4 to 3, with the board's minority protesting that the move had not been placed on the agenda in advance of the meeting.

In recent months, the board had met twice in attempts to oust Jones, but had failed to come up with a majority consensus.

"I am thrilled with this decision," Baines said. "Change is a good thing."

Jones' status remained uncertain Wednesday night.

She had previously served as middle school principal in the district. There was speculation she might return to that position.

But Baines said Wednesday night that the final decision would be Dickerson's.

In recent months, Baines and her allies have offered several reasons for their efforts to oust Jones, including her recent request for a raise and the district administration's failure to file state aid forms on time.

Jones, on the other hand, had blamed much of the tardiness on a previous administration.

Jones' supporters had charged that Baines was trying to give Dickerson the superintendent's post because Baines herself has done work for the Westbury school district, where Dickerson is board president.

Those supporters add that the move flies in the face of Wyandanch's recent attempts to curb favoritism in hiring, which has been a chronic problem in the past.

Baines has responded that she has never worked for the Westbury district directly, but rather for a contractor who provides services for that district.

State education officials have taken an interest in Wyandanch's administration because the district is on a short list of school systems targeted by the state because of low test scores and financial problems.

With Zachary R. Dowdy

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