Tag Archive | "resignation"

Update: Sag Harbor School Board Member Daniel Hartnett Resigns

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Sag Harbor School Board member Daniel Hartnett resigned Monday.

Sag Harbor School Board member Daniel Hartnett resigned Monday.

Originally published July 14, 2014 8:47 p.m.

By Tessa Raebeck 

Daniel Hartnett resigned from the Sag Harbor School District Board of Education Monday, July 14, after selling his house in the district two weeks ago.

Elected in May 2013, Mr. Hartnett entered the second year of his three-year term this month. He also served two terms on the board from 2005 to 2011.

Mr. Hartnett, a social worker and counselor at East Hampton High School, was the frontrunner in the school board in 2013, receiving the most votes from among a group of six candidates. The only educator on the board, he is one of its most vocal members.

“I have come tonight to very painfully, with enormous regret, ask you to accept my resignation from the board of education,” Mr. Hartnett told the board at Monday’s meeting. “I sold my house two weeks ago and have been unable to find affordable or appropriate housing in the district that would allow me to stay on the board. So, I’ve moved out of the district. I’ve signed a lease and need to resign.”

After listing his house in March, Mr. Hartnett said the sale went through much faster than he had anticipated. He was unable to find suitable housing in Sag Harbor and has rented a house in Springs. New York State Law requires all school board members to live in the district and the duration of Mr. Hartnett’s lease in Springs required that he resign.

While waiting for Monday’s meeting to start, Mr. Hartnett told several parents he was saddened by his unplanned resignation and had been looking forward to working with the district’s new superintendent, Katy Graves, who he helped to recruit.

“There’s not a lot of joy being on the school board,” Mr. Hartnett said from the podium during public input Monday. “Except for the fact that you know you’re doing something really amazing for the children of the district.”

“I would walk out of the house at night and say, ‘I’m going out tonight for you and if I can bring some of your friends with me, I will.’ And that’s really what it’s about: it’s about doing what’s best for the kids and it has been a privilege for me to bring whatever knowledge and experience I have to this table,” he added.

Mr. Hartnett thanked his fellow school board members and the administrators, superintendents and principals he has worked with “for the collegial relationships and collaboration that we’ve shared together on behalf of the children of this district” and thanked the community for giving him the opportunity to serve.

Mr. Hartnett also offered his services and said he was more than willing to continue to help and serve in whatever way he could. His son, who lives part-time with his mother in Sag Harbor, will continue to attend school in the district.

Chris Tice, vice president of the board, thanked Mr. Harnett for giving the board a heads-up when he first realized he might have to resign. As a real estate agent, she said she understood the challenge of finding suitable year-round housing in Sag Harbor. Ms. Tice said the board consulted with school attorney Thomas Volz to see if there was any way Mr. Hartnett could legally remain on the board “because everyone on the board was hoping you could stay on the board because you’re such an asset.”

Board President Theresa Samot recalled being first elected to the board the same year as Mr. Hartnett in 2005.

“We went through many great times and, as you said, some difficult times, and it made it much easier for me knowing that you were a colleague and that we were there working through these issues together,” she said.

“The great thing about a board,” said David Diskin, who was elected last year alongside Mr. Hartnett, “is that you have diversity of opinion and diversity of expertise and you add a huge piece of both of those to us and it’s going to be tough not having you there to share your mind.”

“I’m going to miss you as my friend,” said Sandi Kruel, a board member who has known Mr. Hartnett personally for many years. “But I have to tell you that having an educator on the board with such immense passion for children was just amazing to have next to me.”

“I’ve served with you quite often as well,” added board member Susan Kinsella, “and I have to say—although I don’t always agree with you—your knowledge as an administrator, a social worker, your willingness to advocate for the children of this district and for improvements in education—it’s going to be sorely missed, because you come with a welcomed knowledge that’s going to be hard to replace.”

In the wake of Mr. Hartnett’s resignation, the school board has several options: It can appoint someone immediately to fill the remainder of Mr. Hartnett’s term, which expires June 30, 2016; it can appoint someone to fill the position for this school year until the elections in May 2015; it can hold a special election for a new board member immediately; or it can continue with just six board members until the elections in May 2015. No decision was made Monday.

Marienfeld Resigns

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web Marienfeld copy

After a tumultuous last couple of months, current Pierson Middle School physical education teacher and former Pierson High School varsity basketball coach, Fred Marienfeld, announced his resignation on Friday, June 12. In a brief special meeting held on Friday, the school board accepted Marienfeld’s resignation. There was no comment from the audience, made up of a few teachers and members of the public. School board president Walter Wilcoxen said the board didn’t have an official comment, but added that “It was Fred’s choice and it was personal.”

In a terse letter drafted to the school, Marienfeld informed the board that he was resigning from his post for personal reasons.

Marienfeld had been a teacher with the Sag Harbor School District since December 2004. He also served as the Pierson varsity basketball coach since 2005 and led the team to three consecutive playoff berths. In 2006, Marienfeld was named the League VIII coach-of-the-year. However, Marienfeld was released from his coaching position by the school in late January, 2009, after a series of much-publicized conflicts between himself and two players and their parents.

In a Sag Harbor Express article by Benito Vila dated February 4, Marienfeld referenced the “shortcomings of those players, in their preparation and emotional make-up.”

At the time, Pierson’s athletic director, Bill Madsen, who also recently resigned from his position, said, “‘Our expectation is that our coaches will treat our student athletes with dignity and respect and Coach didn’t meet that expectation.’”

Madsen’s resignation is unrelated to Marienfeld’s.

Initially, Marienfeld was suspended from his coaching duties for criticizing and cursing at his players during halftime at a January 6 game between Pierson and Mercy. The incident was followed by two players, Nick DePetris and Jake Federico, leaving the team after “a grueling practice” on January 7. These episodes prompted East Hampton Star sports reporter Jack Graves to report on the conflict between Marienfeld and the players. In the article, from January 27, one parent accused Marienfeld of “demoralizing” the members of his team. While Marienfeld contended that one of the players, DePetris, had a history of quitting the varsity team. After receiving a disciplinary suspension from his coaching duties, he was subsequently let go from this position and Christian Johns was named interim coach for the basketball team. But Marienfeld was able to retain his post as the middle school physical education teacher.

It is unclear whether these previous events affected Marienfeld’s decision to resign from this job, as Marienfeld did not return phone calls seeking comment.

According to school superintendent Dr. John Gratto, the school has already begun to look for someone to take over Marienfeld’s position.

“We are currently looking for a replacement and that was a good reason to accept his resignation quickly,” explained Wilcoxen.

Dr. Gratto said the position is currently posted on an online application system for educators on a website in partnership with the Putnam and Northern Westchester BOCES. He added that the school will advertise the job in next week’s issue of the Southampton Press and the Sag Harbor Express. Dr. Gratto will also send out the position information to colleges in New York State which allow students to major in Physical Education.

Although, several members of the community have complained about Marienfeld’s coaching, others say they will be sad to see him leave as a district teacher.

“There is a lot of speculation about what happened [to make Marienfeld resign], but the fact is that the district is losing a good teacher and a good coach,” said Vila.