Update: Schiavoni Cites Lack of Respect, Questions Executive Session Behavior in Resignation from Sag Harbor School Board of Education

Posted on 06 March 2013

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Update: Wednesday, 9 p.m.

Citing what he believes is a board not working in an “honest, respectful manner,” on Sunday, March 3, Sag Harbor School Board member Gregg Schiavoni submitted a letter of resignation to district clerk Mary Adamczyk.

He is the second board member in less than a year to step down from his post as rumors of internal conflict on the board continue to swirl following a year of tremendous change.

“Board members talk over one another, interrupt one another and show little or no respect by talking under ones breath or making insulting/disparaging remarks,” said Schiavoni in his letter, which was released during a board meeting on Wednesday, March 6.

Schiavoni continues that, despite two retreats on this topic, he does not believe it has gotten better. As an example he cites one situation where even the board’s own attorney had to raise his voice to be heard and was interrupted while trying to impart legal advice to the board.

In the letter, Schiavoni also alleges that personal agendas are bleeding into the board’s business and that issues are being discussed in executive session that are meant to be done in full view of the public.

“I feel as though 75 percent of the executive agenda dialogue is for public discussion,” said Schiavoni in his letter. “On one occasion, we actually went around the room to see how we would all vote on a coaching position! If asked, I would share this information, as it is public information and should never have been discussed behind closed doors.”

Schiavoni said recently the board has spent a lot of time in executive session talking about the bond proposal, LandTek (an athletic field construction company) and the school calendar, to name a few items, each topic which is meant for public session and not permitted under open meetings law guidelines for discussion in executive sessions.

In his letter Schiavoni was also critical of what he said was the board’s inability to address the 2012-2013 goals set by members at the start of the fiscal year.

“Instead of looking forward, we are constantly looking backwards to pin any blame on previous employees of the district,” writes Schiavoni.

“I enjoyed my time serving, but see the board moving in the wrong direction and it is a ship that can’t be righted. We talk about policy and progress, yet everything that is said or done is usually done outside of what the BOE agree would be the process or [is] behind closed doors,” writes Schiavoni later in the letter. “I’m not sure if this is to get the issues resolved fast, for personal reasons or to quickly pass something along. Until personal agendas/vendettas are thrown out of the mix, the Board of Education will continue to stumble on never ending issues that should require one meeting to resolve, but in its current state, take numerous meetings or discussions.”

Despite an initial request by The Sag Harbor Express per the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) on Monday, Schiavoni’s letter was not made available until 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night. As a result, only the board’s initial response was available as of press time.

“First and foremost, the Board would like to thank Gregg Schiavoni for his years of service,” reads a formal statement issued Wednesday night by board president Theresa Samot. “He was a valued member of the board and an active member of this community.”

The letter continues, “Much of Gregg’s letter is his opinion, of which he is entitled. While the board may not share those opinions we stay open to diverse views and suggestions. The board will continue to strive to conduct themselves professionally and with dignity on behalf of the community and the children we serve. There is no doubt that the board at times grapples with difficult decisions, often debating such issues with passion — but always with the singular purpose of ‘doing the right thing.’ We will continue to be faithful to that mission and common purpose and once again thank Gregg for his efforts as a member of that team.”

Despite a Tuesday night meeting with Dr. Carl Bonuso, the district’s interim superintendent, and board president Theresa Samot, Schiavoni said he reiterated his resignation to both parties on Wednesday morning.

Schiavoni is the second school board member to resign in the last year. In July, after six years on the board, Walter Wilcoxen declined to take his oath of office shortly after being re-elected to his seat. In a letter to the editor, Wilcoxen wrote that in the previous year and a half there had been very little trust or consensus building on the board, and instead the environment was one that relied in part on grandstanding, micromanaging and blindsiding. In September, former school board member Susan Kinsella was appointed by the board to fill Wilcoxen’s seat.

On Wednesday night, board member Chris Tice suggested the board wait until the May 21 budget vote and trustee election to fill Schiavoni’s seat.

Original Story: Wednesday, 6 p.m.

Gregg Schiavoni has resigned from the Sag Harbor Board of Education. He is the second board member in less than a year to step down from his post as rumors of internal conflict on the board continue to swirl following a year of tremendous change.

On Wednesday, Schiavoni confirmed that he had filed a letter of resignation with the school district on Monday. The letter, he said, was for an immediate resignation from the board.

Despite a Tuesday night meeting with Dr. Carl Bunuso, the district’s interim superintendent, and board president Theresa Samot, Schiavoni said he reiterated his resignation to both parties on Wednesday morning.

“Maybe it is just me, but personally I believe there are issues not being addressed and are troubling me that solidify my reasons for needing to resign from the board,” said Schiavoni.

Schiavoni declined to immediately comment further on the reasons behind his resignation.

On Monday, a request was made by the Sag Harbor Express under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for a copy of Schiavoni’s resignation letter. On Tuesday, district clerk Mary Adamczyk cited the business of the office as a reason the request had not been processed. On Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Bunuso said he had submitted the letter to the school district’s attorney for “clarification.”

The letter was not made available to the Express as of press time.

Schiavoni is the second school board member to resign in the last year. In July, after six years on the board, Walter Wilcoxen declined to take his oath of office shortly after being re-elected to his seat. In a letter to the editor, Wilcoxen wrote that in the previous year and a half there had been very little trust or consensus building on the board, and instead the environment was one that relied in part on grandstanding, micromanaging and blindsiding.

His resignation coincided with the resignation of then superintendent, Dr. John Gratto, who was later replaced with Dr. Bunuso as interim superintendent. In September, former school board member Susan Kinsella was appointed by the board to fill Wilcoxen’s seat.

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9 Responses to “Update: Schiavoni Cites Lack of Respect, Questions Executive Session Behavior in Resignation from Sag Harbor School Board of Education”

  1. Dan says:

    To say this is troubling is an understatement.

  2. Jefferson says:

    Sounds like a board member with integrity. Must be bad if he bailed out!

  3. Allison Scanlon says:

    Sounds like a violation of open meeting laws….?
    Can’t the state should be contacted…I believe they
    Can disband a board for this?

  4. Jessica M says:

    Like my grandfather always said “believe nothing of what you hear and half of what you read”, would love to hear from the Attorney, maybe this paper should do their due diligence, because if these aligations are true, one would believe the Attorney would be held to some type of legal recourse, it’s a shame our society feeds off negativism, these people need to deal with issues of the children not themselves, as do you Sag Harbor Express.

  5. dan says:

    didnt they take that info about the attorney straight from the resignation letter? Come on now. you sound like someone with an axe to grind here.

  6. Allison Scanlon says:

    I believe this is an issue directly related to our
    Children. We elect officials to represent us and work
    Together to build the best possible school system for our
    Children. When this kind of internal strife and scheming
    And unprofessionalism exists, they can’t get anything
    Accomplished and this directly effects our children. The public school
    System is part of the governmental environment. It invites
    A level of Scrutiny and accountability rarely seen seen in the
    Private sector. Other then delicate issues like collective
    Bargaining and grievances, everything else should be transparent.
    The paper is doing its job and we the taxpayers have every right to
    To be kept informed so we know whether our tax dollars are being
    Well invested. A board such as this is exists on our
    children’s behalf.
    Gregg Schiavoni has no reason to misrepresent what’s
    Happening. He was a valuable member who did his job with
    Integrity. He just wanted open and professional factual discussion
    On issues.

  7. Susan H says:

    This is a Huge loss for the district. Greg is all about the kids and conducting business in a respectful manner. I agree that there should be a formal investigation of the board to make sure they are conducting the business of the district and not their personal agendas. We will never get qualified people willing to run for the board if this disrespectful and possible illegal procedures are going on!

  8. Nauseated says:

    Time to CLEAN HOUSE of the school board.

  9. Rob B says:

    What a shame that another board member ran and asked the public for support, then decided to bail instead of stay and work on improving the situation. Not only that, but he’s trying to defame others on his way out. This is not the way board members are supposed to behave. I know a few of the remaining board members and know them to be hardworking, earnest people. Perhaps we shouldn’t automatically believe the opinion of an ex board member before we know what really happened. And I have been very happy with many of things going on in the district this past year, so all can’t be bad on the board.


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